Is the naming of ‘climate change’ a dangerous self-defeat?

This is the first in a series of four blog posts on the climate by STEPS co-director Andy Stirling, under the heading: ‘Controlling a stable planetary climate – or caring for a complex changing Earth?’ Read part 2 What’s in a name? Often, not a lot. Never a whole story. But sometimes (if looked for),…

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Modernity Without its Clothes: the pandemic crisis shines a light on futilities of control

With so many self-appointed pundits (like me!) currently locked down with their laptops, the present rush of commentary on how to pivot the coronavirus crisis is hardly surprising. Beyond the general news and commentary, scores of articles are exploding across the media, diagnosing what this global catastrophe means, and prescribing how it can be turned…

A big-picture view on the climate negotiations: how can transformation(s) happen in practice?

by Hans Nicolai Adam and Synne Movik As the world stares at alarming evidence of climate change impacts, the search for ‘big bang’ solutions remains challenging. The situation requires nothing short of an unprecedented transformation to a low-carbon society, on the heels of decades of polluting growth. The disappointing outcomes of the COP 25 in…

How to respond to Nature in crisis: look beyond the big stories

The STEPS Centre’s theme for 2020 is Natures. In this introductory blog post by Amber Huff and Nathan Oxley, we look at four lines of enquiry that can help us get behind big stories of crisis. Modern life seems to be increasingly defined through anxiety about humanity’s perverse relationship with nature. Everywhere we look, we…

The STEPS Centre’s theme for 2020 is Natures. In this introductory blog post by Amber Huff and Nathan Oxley, we look at four lines of enquiry that can help us get behind big stories of crisis. Modern life seems to be increasingly defined through anxiety about humanity’s perverse relationship with nature. Everywhere we look, we…

How can we rethink progressive transformations to sustainability?

In a series of three recent blog posts, Andy Stirling reflects on the governance of transformations to sustainability, and what it means for opening up spaces for politics and democracy. The blog posts draw from a workshop organised by the Africa Sustainability Hub, related to the ‘Governance of Socio-technical Transformations’ (GOST) project. The Nairobi workshop…

Infrastructures of the imagination: uncertainty and the politics of prefiguration

By Martin Mahony and Silke Beck Sticky imaginaries, shifting frames, irreducible incertitude . . . the recent Politics of Uncertainty symposium gave us much to reflect upon in the context of recent shifts in the politics of global climate change, and what they might mean for the relationship between knowledge and action. Cluster 2 of…

Whose risk? Whose responsibility? The politics and financialisation of uncertainty

At the STEPS Centre Symposium on the Politics of Uncertainty, Susan Erikson (Simon Fraser) and Rebecca Elliott (LSE) presented fascinating cases for the insurance theme, which was part of the finance cluster. Here are two snapshots: Financing Emergency Pandemics In July 2020, 26 investors in the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) are set to reap…

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…

Unpacking uncertainty in times of climate change

By Shilpi Srivastava, Hans Nicolai Adam and Lyla Mehta Climate change undoubtedly is one of the most significant development challenges of our times. Research over the last few decades has demonstrated clearly the links between anthropogenically induced emissions and climatic changes. Despite these scientific advancements, uncertainties persist at multiple scales; with respect to future societal…

Round icon with colours representing the Sustainable Development Goals

HLPF 2019: Why inclusion and power matter for sustainability

On 9-18 July the UN’s High-Level Political Forum meets to discuss progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This meeting takes the theme of “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality“. The theme particularly addresses goals around education, growth and employment, inequality, climate change, peace, justice and inclusion, and partnerships. The theme is a crucial…