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Surfacing alternatives, rescuing diversities: Reflecting on climate change policy narratives – and beyond Presentation to Climate Change and Science Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Surfacing alternatives, rescuing diversities: Reflecting on climate change policy narratives – and beyond Presentation to Climate Change and Science Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Surfacing alternatives, rescuing diversities: Reflecting on climate change policy narratives – and beyond Presentation to Climate Change and Science Studies Workshop, Copenhagen, April 2009 Melissa Leach

2 Climate change science-policy Not just sciences and scientific discourses, but policy and policy discourses Science and policy are mutually constructed Arrays of mechanisms, practices, regulations, platforms, techniques – underpinned by sciences and spawning new applied ones (scenarios, baselines, risk assessments….) Policy-oriented (social/interdisciplinary) sciences – sustainability science, resilience studies, adaptation/development studies; disaster and hazards research How are these landing in particular places? What are they doing? What are they excluding?

3 Policy narratives Produced by people and institutions…. actors Beginning – a system, framed (how bounded, what scale?) Imaginary - futures desired or feared (what ideas, possibilities, values, goals?) Middle – a set of envisaged actions, that must deal with dynamics (what shocks or stresses?) and incomplete knowledge (what risks, uncertainties, ambiguities, possible surprises?) Construction of publics – who will act, who will change their behaviour, respond End – catastrophe averted, outcome achieved, sustainability enhanced

4 Climate change-alities Co-construction of these elements Governmentality – with and without government Some narratives justify and become interlocked with powerful pathways – trajectories of intervention and change But these meet lived worlds Unintended effects, interpretative dynamics, exclusions, counter-politics…….

5 Adaptation narratives Multiple actors in a growing adaptation policy/research community; convergence with humanitarian and disaster risk reduction agencies Communities need to sustain their livelihoods in the face of change-related hazards (floods, droughts…..) Vulnerability (justice) Short-term shocks (resilience); risks (prediction, early warning….) Adaptive capacity; the adaptive, coping community

6 Exclusions, alternatives Kutch, Western India Histories of living and dealing with water uncertainty; long term stresses as well as shocks Poetics and meanings

7 Exclusions, alternatives Multiple hazards and scarcities – felt and responded to differently by women and men, farmers and pastoralists, elite and poor Ideas of adaptation and community intersect with embedded social differentiation and conflict Litanies of water scarcity as discourses of political marginalisation; ‘Rainfall is declining’ (despite the figures); imaginaries of sustained plentiful water enwrapped with regional political aspiration

8 Mitigation narratives – forest versions Deforestation causes global warming: Key role for developing countries in fighting greenhouse gas emissions 4 September 2006, Rome – Most people assume that global warming is caused by burning oil and gas. But in fact between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year – 1.6 billion tonnes – is caused by deforestation. About 200 experts, mostly from developing countries, met in Rome last week to address this issue in a workshop organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and hosted by FAO. “We are working to solve two of the key environmental issues – deforestation and global warming – at the same time,” said FAO Senior Forestry Officer Dieter Schoene. Trees are 50 percent carbon. When they are felled or burned, the C02 they store escapes back into the air. According to FAO figures, some 13 million ha of forests worldwide are lost every year, almost entirely in the tropics. Deforestation remains high in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

9 Mitigation narratives – forest versions Convergence of deforestation/conservation and climate change science-policy communities; voluntary markets, REDD in negotiation Forest plantation and ‘avoided deforestation’ can increase/sustain greenhouse gas absorption, and reduce losses from carbon stored in trees and soils ‘Fixing’ future stability from a present snapshot; baseline and alternative scenarios; prediction and control Airbrushed land users (actual or potential forest land to spare); deforesting, breeding, immigrating, land-hungry farmers (baseline scenarios); incentivisable, marketised communities (carbon payments will halt deforestation)

10 Exclusions, alternatives Kenema, eastern Sierra Leone Meanings of carbon forestry within lived forest landscape, and political-economic history of resource exploitation

11 Exclusions, alternatives Long-term, overlapping dynamics of forests, farming, population and climate – forest recovering from drought and retreat 300 years ago; depopulation and expansion 150 years ago and 1990s ; forest- soil carbon-farming dynamics; poverty-land clearing dynamics. Lessons from history: non-linearity, sensitivity to future climate shocks Living with a dynamic forest-farming landscape; tacit agro-ecological knowledge Tensions in predictive baseline scenarios….

12 Exclusions, alternatives Another way of ‘taking our land’ Power-laden negotiations amongst timber operators and conservationists, politicians and paramount chiefs, women and men will determine what mechanisms mean in practice Struggles for livelihood and community – and against forest animals – in rebuilding lives after a decade of war Scope for grounded, mitigation/adaptation in lived-in-landscapes (biochar, conservation resources) provided local control assured?

13 Alternative narratives and pathways Opening up to what powerful policy narratives exclude Recognising alternative narratives, imaginaries and subjectivities – social and political as much as technical (counter-politics, resistance, reinterpretation) Acknowledging how these emerge from lived and historical experience and memory – narratives that link past and future Considering a wider diversity and multiple scaling of responses (spreading eggs among multiple baskets) Building pathways that link CC response with livelihood, welfare and justice priorities and imaginations

14 Mess and reliability Moving beyond risk management and ‘clean-slate’ policy designs: acknowledging climate change and policy as a zone of uncertainty, ambiguity, surprise, mess Emanates from interactions between social/political/natural dynamics, and clashes/tacit negotiations amongst competing framings Beyond distinction between macro-design and micro- operations/individual behaviour: middle zone of interactions, contingencies, patterns, anticipation; tacking between specific events/cases and broader systems; across scales; experiential and formal knowledge. Understand and work with/from the ‘real-time’ happenings in these zones in which tacit, experiential knowledge – of scientists, managers, local people – is key Identifying and building new networks and ‘high reliability’ (Roe) or ‘bridging’ professionals and skills

15 Politics and citizenships Engaging in a politics of narratives/pathways Making citizen engagement central Beyond liberal, consumer, and communitarian perspectives Emergent coalitions and performances: ‘Practised engagement of social solidarities around issues of concern’ Scientists and policymakers as citizens too…. Rights and justice - cognitive, imaginative, material Multiple routes of mobilisation and knowledge politics – antagonistic as well as deliberative Social sciences which are positioned and reflexive, and encourage this in others……


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