Net zero and low-carbon transformation: why targets are not enough

This week, the UN Global Climate Summit meets in New York, calling global leaders to describe how they will meet the challenge of disruptive climate change. The long term target for countries is to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This is a challenge for all countries, including in the industrialised world, not least in…

Climate change: how do we move beyond ‘the Great Derangement’?

by Andrea Nightingale and Lars Otto Naess Climate change has become an ever more pressing and tangible issue. July was the hottest month on record, the IPCC’s report on land and climate change contains stark warnings on the effects of human-induced climate change, the report by the Global Commission on Adaptation is asking for a…

Strikes to science fiction: 4 ways to transform climate and development

by Nathan Oxley and Sophie Marsden The UN Climate Summit next week in New York will once again convene governments to discuss the intimidating challenge of how to coordinate action around climate change. Around the world, a series of strikes are planned to show the depth of support – led by young people, but involving…

Sustainable Energy Policy in Germany: A Case of Natural Gas Lock-in

A new Working Paper from STEPS Summer School alumni seeks to explain why (and how) natural gas has assumed such a dominant role in German energy policy, and at what cost. The authors call upon fellow researchers to challenge the increasing dominance of gas in energy systems worldwide, and to intervene in academic, NGO and…

Medieval painting of an apocalyptic angel playing a trumpet

Catastrophes of biblical proportions: why the apocalypse is back

In a parliamentary debate in London about climate change and ecology on 1 May, the debate turned to scripture to describe the scale of the problem. “We face catastrophes of biblical proportions: droughts, pestilence, famine, floods, wildfires, mass migration, political instability, war and terrorism. Global civilisation as we know it will be gone by the…

Question marks

Responding to uncertainty: who are the experts?

Uncertainties are everywhere, part of life. But how to respond? Who are the experts? These are questions that we are debating this week at a symposium entitled ‘The Politics of Uncertainty: Practical Challenges for Transformative Action’. But they are also questions very pertinent to daily life in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere in the world. Everyday uncertainties For…

Cities, Uncertainty and Systems Change

Depending who and where you are in the world, you will be experiencing the effects of climate change differently. Here in the UK, the recent hot-weather days in February might have felt unsettling, even as your body welcomed the warmth and sunshine. Meanwhile, people in some parts of the United States were caught in freezing…

Dam viewed from above

Rediscovering the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

A few months ago, I presented the findings of a new book, The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice, to an International Water Association conference on the same topic at Salerno. To my great surprise, I was the only social scientist out of 200 participants. Nexus approaches help to bridge the separate domains of water,…

farmers in dryland landscape

Five problems with ‘integrated assesment’ models, and what to do about them

What are the most appropriate ways of understanding changes in natural resource change in rural areas, particularly in the context of climate change? How can we make use of data that is patchy and uncertain? How can models help decision-making about future management? These questions are at the heart of three recently published journal articles…

small fishing boats with flags waving in the breeze

Views from the coast: uncertainty beyond climate change

Coastal areas are a poster child for climate vulnerability. They are marked and scarred by sea level rise, salinization, warming water, declining fish stocks, storms, changes in currents and weather patterns. But there are other currents and other patterns too. Against the global background of climatic change, a more careful look at places and communities…