Climate Change and Sustainability

Policy Field Research

Climate protection is a highly dynamic domain of global cooperation that has gradually extended into the field of sustainability as the need for a profound transformation towards a decarbonized global economy has become an urgent concern. Research at the Centre tracked this transition from a field solely focused on climate into the multidi-mensional field of sustainability governance. This novel domain is characterized by often conflicting concerns about planetary survival, protection of biodiversity, economic development and human well-being, including complex issues of global and intergenerational justice.

Our research ex-amined these transitions in terms of: the history of planetary politics; narratives and negotiations preceding the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and its implementation, including private-public partnerships; innovations for more sustainability; required changes in land use to protect biodiversity and food safety; contestation and conflicts around hydro-electrical energy projects; the negative ecological impacts of large infrastructural projects in the Global South; decolonial critiques of prevailing discourses in the climate field; and South-South
cooperation on climate issues. Findings suggest a co-existence of stagnation within the multilateral system, threats to global cooperation as well as the strengthening of various forms of transnational cooperation.

Research at the Centre also engaged with the topic of degrowth that has emerged as one of the most contested fields of debate on the drivers of global heating, ecological collapse, and economic injustice. We approached degrowth as a loosely knit and developing set of interdisciplinary propositions, aiming to create a world of both human and non-human flourishing. Bringing different disciplines, such as urban design, architecture, political economy, political ecology, critical geography, and political theory, into a fruitful dialogue, the Centre’s contributions explored, challenged, and critiqued degrowth’s propositions and its prospects of shaping scholarly agendas, policy frameworks, and social movements. This integrative approach, simultaneously critical and constructive, sought to convey a sense of possibility that successfully drew people to degrowth scholarship.

Another area of the Centre’s interdisciplinary research examined questions pertaining to so-called ‘green transformations’. We explored how different collectivities at the local, national, and transnational level navigate often conflict-ridden socio-ecological junctures. We sought to develop a comprehensive analytical framework from which different stances, narratives, or ideologies of green transition as a future-oriented project can be analysed across various levels of governance. Contributions  emphasize  the  importance  of  considering  the  geographic  and  historical  context,  the  variety of actors involved, and the complex ways in which demands for change are interrelated with hegemonic power dynamics. 

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