9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN25 Social Movements

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Environmental Movements Building I, 1E5

The environmental movement and climate change: evidence, campaigns and outcomes in Europe

Climate change is a highly controversial and complex issue. In general terms a consensus exists over the need to tackle climate change, though policy implications and their relative costs and benefits are much more controversial. The EU target to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels requires addressing issues as diverse as energy efficiency, transport, biofuels, deforestation and biomass, agricultural land use and to do so in a coordinated way. Areas of risk, uncertainties and ignorance are wide and an assessment of how different measures contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions is highly uncertain and changing over time. Further, it is controversial to assess whether efforts for reducing emissions from a sector do not negatively affect the level of emissions from other sectors. For example, efforts for meeting targets on biofuels may adversely affect efforts against deforestation. Similarly, plans for extensive afforestation may lead to a loss in biodiversity. Finally, impacts on national economies differ and are difficult to ascertain. In all these cases different conceptions of risks and priorities make it difficult to achieve policy coordination and to develop coherent plans. This paper aims at assessing how the environmental movement is responding to such a complex challenge and proposes an analysis of a climate change-related campaigns - such as "Big Ask" and "Time to Lead" - as well as contributions to EU consultation processes. The analysis of campaigns and consultation processes will allow to assess who are the actors involved on different issues, how organisations set priorities for action and manage contradictory evidence, and to what extent the environmental organisations are able to retain coherence and coordination in a highly complex field.