Eva Lövbrand, senior lecturer at Linköping University’s Department of Thematic Studies - Environmental Change, will arrive two days before the official start of COP21 – the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. Dr Lövbrand’s research focuses on the role of non-state actors in climate cooperation. In Paris she will observe how civil society mobilises in conjunction with the conference, e.g. for the big march through Paris on the preceding Sunday.
“The terrorist attacks in Paris were unfortunate in many ways. It would be a shame if the security situation prevented civil society making its voice heard ahead of the climate negotiations”, she said.
Dr Lövbrand has followed the Ekovandring, a walk from Uppsala in Sweden to Paris co-organised by Swedish churches, as well as the Swedish National Touring Theatre’s initiative “Run for Your Life” in which she also participated. The destination of both campaigns was the Global Climate March, which French authorities have now cancelled due to security concerns.
“Climate activists and non-governmental climate actors of various kinds have secured a new and increasingly important role in climate efforts. They have high hopes of influencing the negotiation outcomes, and I really hope that they will be able to make their voice heard.”
During the negotiations, with all the peripheral activities, Dr Lövbrand will also conduct in-depth interviews with actors, observers and activists.
“As a researcher I'm interested in knowing why it is so important for them to meet in conjunction with climate negotiations. What are their aims? How do they view their roles?”
With a similar focus is Naghmeh Nasiritousi, doctoral student at the Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research (CSPR) at Linköping University, and also accredited for COP21. Her research focuses on transnational climate initiatives and the multilateral climate collaboration, including its various networks, that gathers larger and larger numbers of participants alongside the UN’s intergovernmental collaboration.
Björn-Ola Linnér, professor at LiU’s Environmental Change, also addresses the changing role of the non-state climate actors at the research seminars. In Paris he will launch the research reports on NAMAs – Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.
With a somewhat different approach there is Madelene Ostwald, senior lecturer at LiU’s CSPR. Dr Ostwald will follow forestry and agricultural issues, as well as land use. And on the Sunday halfway through the conference, she will participate in a Landscape Forum.
For LiU and its unit Environmental Change, the Paris week also presents an opportunity to promote two new books: The Political Economy of Climate Adaptation (Björn-Ola Linnér) and Climate Governance after Copenhagen (Eva Lövbrand).
For the students in attendance, Maria Jernnäs and Natacha Klein, the biggest job will be to distribute and collect the responses to the International Negotiations Survey, which was initiated by researchers at LiU’s CSPR eight years ago.
“By now we have received more than 8,000 surveys, and we expect at least 500 more from the Paris summit. The surveys have given many researchers, not only at LiU, data for a number of research projects”, says Mathias Fridahl, project manager for COP21 at Environmental Change.
“The prospects for a global agreement look better than in a long time. There are four critical problems: The allocation of responsibility, how much transparency into the proposed initiatives the countries will accept, the legal form of the commitments and finally the issue of financing - which is incredibly complex.”
The negotiations draft, consisting of 51 pages of dense text, clearly illustrates the disagreement.
“There are approximately 200 alternative wordings for various paragraphs and no less than 1,250 square brackets, i.e. small or large changes within sentences that countries want to change.”
So there is a lot of negotiation to complete during the two weeks in December, shortly after terrorist attacks sent shockwaves through Paris.
“For COP21, security has been a top priority right from the day when Paris was selected as summit host. The terrorists' goal is to drive wedges into society, but I hope that the countries of the world will take this opportunity to show that they are united on an issue that affects everyone, worldwide.”