Associate Professor in Sustainability Research and Computational Social Science
Area of work and why it’s important:
I am trying to develop social solutions to climate change mitigation. Specifically, I am researching how social change in response to the climate crisis can be accelerated. This is important because the majority of measures to stop climate change spiralling out requires some form of societal and behavioural change and in a democratic society, we need to have the majority of the population onboard, they need to demand and support far-reaching measures that can limit global warming below 2°C. I am researching how we can get the majority of people onboard, actively demanding for effective climate action.
What will you be doing at COP26?
I will be there mainly as an observer but also to network. Specifically, I am interested in how the climate change discourse at COP has changed over the years, what influence civil society actors, such as Fridays for Future and other climate protest movement have on the change and to what extent this change then translates into changes in political decisions. I also want to establish connection to various actors involved in climate action, from civil society as well as political decision makers as this will be crucial for my research and the impact I hope to have with my research.
What are your hopes for the COP26 negotiations?
I hope that the gaps between pledges and actions will be a focus at COP26, resulting in greater pressure on political decision makers and new measures to call out on nation states not meeting expectations. The newly introduced Children Climate Risk Index will hopefully also receive some attention, as it shows how we are failing our children and grandchildren around the world and this message is important and can be very mobilising. I also hope for some important signal decisions, e.g. ending subsidies to fossil fuels worldwide and ensuring the flow of financial and technical support to the Global South for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
Any tips for readers about climate action?
We are all embedded in social networks, we all have some influence. Talk to family and friends about moral implications of delaying effective climate action (e.g. what it could mean for our children and grandchildren). Obviously, you’re more convincing if your serious concerns about climate change are also visible in your daily behaviour (food, energy consumption, transport etc.). Get in touch with your councillors and MPs, ideally repeatedly; join local groups that fight climate change; vote according to your duty of care for present-day children/young people and generations to come; invest your money in a liveable future.
Anything else you want us to know?
Read The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, one of the best fiction books on climate change.