LES LEVIDOW analyses the predominant political narrative on climate, and ways for social movements to oppose it
As embraced by the world’s most powerful governments, the predominant approach to climate change has three main elements: market mechanisms, technological fixes, and delay. Market-type policy instruments are meant eventually to stimulate novel techno-solutions which can decarbonise or replace high-carbon systems.
This techno-market framework has maintained a societal hegemony through a seductive narrative, namely: that a smooth low-carbon transition will become more feasible sometime in the future, as grounds to delay climate action for now.
These climate-delay narratives warrant scrutiny for their strategies, broad appeal and role in system continuity. Focusing on them, this article ends with ideas for counter-strategies towards system change.
As climate-change denial has become marginal, climate-delay has become a more important obstacle. Having initiated the US agenda for a Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez deploys the epithet “climate delayer” against politicians who promote excuses for delaying effective action, especially the Democratic Party leadership.
Climate-delay narratives encompass a broad range of obstructors, excuses and delays. In the guise of sharpening debate, they raise questions that divert attention from decarbonisation solutions. Their strategies variously redirect responsibility, promote non-transformative solutions, emphasise disadvantages of climate action, and/or encourage a fatalistic surrender to climate change, according to an academic analysis published in the journal Global Sustainability.
Its authors argue that a prevalent strategy has been to divert the focus away from stringent decarbonisation measures, towards “technology and market-based measures with minimal interventions, even if these are ultimately insufficient to address the scale of the problem”.
This strategy has many variations, e.g. emphasising recent progress in renewable energy deployment, promoting techno-optimistic solutions (always falling short of the promised timeframe), and recurrently substituting new future solutions, e.g., zero-carbon airplanes, fusion power and direct air capture of greenhouse gases.Read the rest of this entry »