23 February 2015

Industrial fatalist, green Keynesian, eco-socialist or climate
change sceptic? A new book from Jonas Anshelm, researcher at Linköping University, clarifies who’s who in the climate debate.

Around the time of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, climate change was on everyone’s lips. But then it fell off the radar, according to Jonas Anshelm, researcher at Linköping University, and Martin Hultman from Umeå University. They co-authored a book on the climate change debate when it was most in focus, and who the participants in the climate change debate are.

Why does the climate debate need to be analysed?
”For the uninitiated, the climate debate can seem complicated. We wanted to clarify how the various positions relate to each other, and which views they share and don’t share. The book is also intended for an international readership. Sweden is often seen as a pioneer, a progressive leader, but this isn’t exactly true when it comes to climate policy, so we also explore this in the book.”

So which parties are involved in the debate?
”The industrial fatalist position dominates the debate. Its proponents believe that green growth is inevitable, and the green keynesians agree with this. However they differ on how to achieve green growth. The industrial fatalist wants to achieve this by way of free-market solutions and modern industrial means such as nuclear power and eco-friendly cars. The green keynesian prefers political regulation and modern eco-resources such as wind farms and fast trains.”

The eco-socialists, who maintain that the industrial-capitalist society must be abandoned, believe that change must be realised by way of decentralisation and small-scale renewable energy.

Finally there are the climate change sceptics who dismiss what they believe is unfounded alarmism. They say we should continue with the status quo, keeping the industrial-capitalist society. They are not well represented in the Swedish debate, but we see an increase in climate change scepticism.

Why has the climate change debate eased off?
”No one in the research community has stated that the debate is less important today, but people have become resigned, because the international political negotiations have yielded such minimal results. There is too great a discrepancy between the climate researchers’ image of the future and the policy measures. The message that is communicated is either that the problem isn’t that big, or that nothing can be done about it.”

The way we discuss climate change – will it change in the future?
”The instant that a fraction of the climate change researchers’ warnings become visible, the climate change issue will shake the very foundations of our society.”

The book: Discourses of Global Climate Change. Apocalyptic Framing and Political Antagonisms. By Jonas Anshelm and Martin Hultman.


Published 2015-02-23

About the researcher