SOL Climate is a cross-divisional initiative with the aim to foster collaborative efforts on research and education related to climate change and climate transitions within the Department of Urban and Rural Development and the Swedish Biodiversity Centre (CBM).
The aim of SOL Climate is to break down silos and barriers and foster a transdisciplinary collaborative environment to discuss pathways to transform society and deal with uncertain futures caused by climate change. By lifting forward these perspectives and learn from each other’s expertise (on e.g. climate mitigation, adaptation, governance, compensation and transformative processes) we aim to support each other and strengthen the pathways necessary towards a zero-carbon climate transition.
We do so by organizing:
- Broadly themed seminars
- Discussions and workshops (our workshop “How do we strengthen our efforts toward climate-related education within SOL?” is planned for January 15, 2020)
- Facilitate a discussion environment to collaboratively think of new research proposals and/or education efforts
- Share stories and experiences of colleagues within the Department and how they work with climate, now and in the future.
15 January 2020 – Workshop: “How do we strengthen our efforts toward climate-related education within SOL?”, in Room Grimsö, Ulls hus. Register here »
30 October 2019 – Seminar “Climate Policy in Sweden and the EU – A Critical Overview”
‘Meet your colleague’ #1 – interview with Daniel Bergquist (Researcher at the Landscape Architecture Division)
What do you imagine climate being embedded into research and education, also based on your own work?
I see climate change very broadly as a symptom of human activity. Although the term is dominating right now, in a sense it does not cover all the challenges of sustainability, global change and transitions. Currently, I am conducting a study that counts for all the energy support towards human life in urban districts. One conclusion is that we need a transition to renewable sources. Climate research may not necessarily be my point of departure, but it recurs in most of my research outputs. As I said, climate change is a symptom and because it is so all-encompassing it needs to be addressed on multiple levels.
So how can we address it on a more holistic level here at SOL?
We should probably stop focusing on the symptoms and look for steps to make a transition. For example, in the study I am working on now, we quantify the relative shares of environmental support of renewable sources versus non-renewable, such as fossil fuels, which are of course associated with climate impacts. However, when we look at the total renewability of the society we are in today, it is not even 1%! So it is a challenge – a radical transition is not that easy because if you stop using fossil fuels there is no basis for a complex society as we know it today. That is the exact critical discussion I am looking for.
How do we facilitate this discussion?
When addressing climate, we need to go deeper and show the complexity of current affairs. I think that would be very important for us to do at SOL. According to Greta [Thunberg], the recipe is very simple: leave the fossil fuels, fund the renewables. But unfortunately it is not that easy. Because even if you finance renewables, they cannot compete as you won’t have the same volumes of it. Our current society’s requirements are problematic as we have an increased demand of energy. Even if you fund renewable technologies, the technologies themselves are not renewable. It still depends on unsustainable industries and it is all just not that straightforward. Our roles as researchers and educators, are to problematize that – it’s not only climate change, it is about our societies!
How would you translate this call into our educational efforts?
Again, climate change is an entry point, an important buzzword. Still, though that concept you can work with poverty, injustice, biodiversity, greenwashing…there are so many different fields one can look into and integrate, which is very important for us to do more extensively. It is very important to address climate change in all of its complexity.
What kind of skills and tools do students need to learn to deal with this complexity?
We already have a course called Interdisciplinary Practice where students really learn to work in interdisciplinary, diverse teams. You provide them with both a team and a theme to work with and then the group identifies a solution. Of course they can do a critical study as well, but if that is a solid solution is another question. But definitely, interdisciplinary team efforts and skills should be accessible to anyone to work with, such as interview methodologies.
What kind of theories would be useful to engage with in such interdisciplinary settings (both for students and staff at SOL)?
Agroecology is very interesting, or particularly political agroecology and urban political agroecology. These lenses could serve as a good basis for a lot of fields to draw on. As well as growth critique – degrowth is a concept one can relate to from multiple fields. Especially now that Greta is talking about fairytales of economic growth, it is vital to bring these relatable concepts into the classroom and discuss these in-depth. I went to the first Degrowth Conference in Paris, but since then I am unsure how much has been done surrounding that theme. Therefore, I would like to include alternative economists in this debate.
Interviewer: Wouter Blankestijn
Photo: Daniel Bergquist