Last Friday, the PSA Environment Specialist Group hosted a workshop at Keele University to discuss Climate Politics in Interesting Times. The event was made possible through funding provided by the Political Studies Association, as part of their Pushing the Boundaries programme. The theme for the event had been inspired by discussions held at the PSA Annual Conference in Glasgow earlier this year, which highlighted that the politics around governing global climate change are complex enough at the best of times. Now, a surge of populism, ‘fake news’, and the election of Donald Trump as US President, all in times of ongoing austerity in Western democracies, add even greater challenges to the picture. In response, we held a research workshop to explore what these ‘interesting times’ mean for the prospects, barriers, and new opportunities of climate governance.
A group of academics, researchers, activists, and policy-makers gathered at Keele University’s Sustainability Hub in order to explore questions such as how has transnational climate governance evolved since Paris 2015? How are climate politics being affected by the recent political changes such as Brexit, Trump’s election, and the rise in populism around these events? And how might academic research and political action help to overcome any challenges and open up new opportunities in this context?
These questions were explored through two panel sessions, the first on Trump, Brexit, and the geopolitics of climate change, and the second on New actors and spaces on the horizon. This was followed by a grant writing clinic hosted by Louise Maythorne, and a working lunch where participants could ask questions and seek advice on developing their own grant applications.
The event concluded with a roundtable to discuss the future of climate politics. Roundtable participants included Mike Childs (Head of Policy, Research and Science at Friends of the Earth), Neil Carter (University of York), Marc Hudson (Editor of Manchester Climate Monthly), Sherilyn Macgregor (University of Manchester), and Sam Gibbons (Keele University). The roundtable produced a wealth of engaging discussions, ranging from the tensions between activism and maintaining independence as a researcher, to how researchers and activists can best engage and communicate with the public, and to what extent there is still hope for the future in the battle against climate change. For more detail on the presentations and debates that unfolded during the day, you can view the live-tweeting that happened on the day by searching for ‘#CPIT2017’ on twitter, or by viewing our PSA Environment twitter account (@psaenvironment). In addition to providing space for discussion and debate, Friday’s event was also used as a ‘springboard’ event to encourage members to get in touch if you have any ideas for events that you would like to see take place. We can help to provide administrative, advertising, and sometimes also funding support, depending on the event. So if you have any ideas for events that you would like to see take place, please get in touch at psa.environment [at] gmail [dot] com.
If you attend Friday’s event, you may be interested in using the discussions to develop a paper or panel submission for the next PSA Annual Conference, held on 26-28 March 2018 in Cardiff. The conference theme will be ‘Politics in Interesting Times: Asking the Difficult Questions’, which links closely to the themes discussed at our climate politics workshop. We will be issuing a call for papers shortly, but in the meantime if you wish to submit a paper or panel affiliated to the group please let us know via email.
Finally, we’d like to sincerely thank all those that attended the workshop, especially those who presented papers and our roundtable speakers. We very much look forward to seeing you all at our next event!