Earth Day: are we astronauts or toads?

It’s 50 years since the first image of the Earth from space was beamed back home from Lunar Orbiter 1. It’s hard for us now to imagine, or remember, what it meant back then. For the first time, humans could see a real image of their home as a whole. The picture, and others that…

To struggle against and to build with: what does student activism in Delhi mean for pathways to justice?

At the weekend, Umar Khalid, one of the six student activists accused in Delhi’s ‘anti-nationalism scandal’ unfolded by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Modi, returned to the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). In a rousing speech on Sunday night, he made a persuasive case for “anti-nationals of the world [to] unite”. Echoing…

Outgrowing the twin simplifications of Growth and Degrowth: part 1

This is the first of a series of 3 blogs by STEPS co-director Andy Stirling, responding to the ideas of Giorgos Kallis on the ‘degrowth hypothesis’. Read part 2 and part 3, and see also Giorgos Kallis’ response. What’s at Stake Between Growth and Degrowth? I recently had the privilege of hearing a great talk…

Solidarity with JNU

We in the STEPS Centre stand in full solidarity and support for our colleagues at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India.  We were distressed to hear of the circumstances leading to the arrests and raids carried out on the JNU campus in the last few days, and the subsequent events, including violent assaults on faculty and students. Universities…

Was COP21 a failure or a success?

In the aftermath of the COP21 climate change conference, the debate over whether the Paris Agreement is a success or a failure is going full blast. Among other things, the deal sets a high aspirational goal to limit warming below 2C and strive to keep temperatures at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. This is a far…

‘This hope is real’: how COP21 frames the future

Who would have bet any meaningful amount of money, a month ago, that most of the world would sign up to 1.5 degrees at COP21? Of course there were celebrations on Saturday when Laurent Fabius banged his little green gavel down to mark the agreement. Most of those in the room had toiled for long…

Escaping the frames of war

The world is now witnessing yet one further bout in a perennial tragedy. As so often before, organised violence is being used as an instrument of politics. This is no less obscene for being so familiar. And the pathology is all the more distressing, for being so pervasive. A diversity of political perspectives are implicated….

COP21: how can Southern Africa cope with El Niño?

Today COP 21 opens in Paris. Over two weeks a new climate deal will hopefully be agreed. It is a critical juncture for humanity. As high level officials discuss options in these negotiations, many people around the world are already living with climate change and uncertainty. In Southern Africa, the effects of what is expected…

How to ensure governments stick to their Paris climate commitments

More than 146 countries covering 87% of global greenhouse gas emissions have now submitted their national pledges to tackle climate change in advance of the major climate summit in Paris. These are known as Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions. Note the language: these aren’t commitments and are only “intended”. Since collectively these INDCs would still leave us…

Will the Sustainable Development Goals make a difference?

This week heads of state assemble in New York to launch the Sustainable Development Goals. The agreed text lays out 17 goals and 169 targets. It is an ambitious agenda for all of humanity. But will they make any difference? We have had the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were launched with similar fanfare in…