Between madness and reason. The conflicting discourse of the climate change debate
(University of Bonn)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses how comparisons are used in climate change debate to regulate responsibilities and clarify questions of guilt, as well as to draw up options for action for a climate-friendly future.
Paper long abstract:
“From model pupil to sinner” was one of the headlines that covered Germany and German Politics in 2018. The background: Compared to other countries, Germany has been perceived as a pioneer in the field of climate protection for several years. Germany’s commitment to reduce 40 percent in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared with 1990 levels sounds impressive at first glance. In the summer of 2018, however, it became obvious that Germany would fail to meet these self-declared climate targets. For such a radical transformation of the energy system to succeed, cars need to emit less, heating systems need to be climate-friendly, and the electricity sector needs to be powered by wind, sun and biomass instead of coal and gas. These targets will not be met in 2020. A worldwide comparison even shows that Germany is only in the midfield of the energy transition index. In the wake of this reporting and other global events – the hot summer of 2018, the climate change skepticism of some political figures in global politics, the so-called “diesel affair” – the discourse on climate change was also rekindled. Among other things, this discourse is also about establishing comparative values., e.g. in terms of a societal perspective: Is climate change man-made; and if so, are there communities that contribute more to it than others? These comparative values are also used to generate options for action and/or to clarify questions of guilt. In this context, comparisons form part of my PostDoc project, in which the following analytical categories are central: the “new” sociocultural world/climate/orders, new forms and formats of knowledge production, transfer and application in climate activism, and the current shaping of the climate future in everyday life. First results of the project will be presented in Santiago de Compostela.
Comparison as social and cultural practice