A typology of climate delay discourses.

A typology of climate delay discourses.

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Non-technical summary ‘Discourses of climate delay’ pervade current debates on climate action. These discourses accept the existence of climate change, but justify inaction or inadequate efforts. In contemporary discussions on what actions should be taken, by whom and how fast, proponents of climate delay would argue for minimal action or action ta...

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... Is it still possible to mitigate climate change? The varying positions to these fundamental questions allow us to group discourses into four categories that 'redirect responsibility', 'push non-transformative solutions', 'emphasize the downsides' of climate policy, or 'surrender' to climate change (see Figure 1). ...

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... no/contentassets/ fab417af0b8e4b5694591450f7dc6969/no/pdfs/ stm202020210020000dddpdfs.pdf. 25. Lamb et al. (2020) define discourses of climate delay as those arguments justifying inaction or inadequate efforts to reduce greenhouse gases by, for example, emphasising the costs of mitigation and stressing the impossibility of halting climate change. ...
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This article uses a mixed-methods design to study flight-intensive practices in Norway. It explores how practices changed as a consequence of the travel restrictions implemented to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications for people’s well-being. Norway is one of the European countries where people take the most flights per capita and the expectation is for air traffic to increase by approximately 4% annually from pre-pandemic levels. Notwithstanding the industry’s goal of becoming fossil-free by 2050, the rapid reduction of emissions to keep global warming at 1.5°C below pre-industrial levels is unlikely to happen without restrictions in air travel. The article draws on social practice and well-being perspectives to investigate the possibility of flying less in post-pandemic times. Using survey data and regression analysis, the study analyzes the infrastructures, norms, values, resources, and competencies associated with reductions in pre-pandemic air travel. Engaging in walking and cycling and taking collective transport for short-distance travel were found to correlate with flying less for long distances. In-depth interviews with domestic travelers suggest that flying less for work might be a synergic satisfier as it contributes to more than one human need without hampering any others. This has implications for the well-being of people who engage in flight-intensive practices for work as it will likely be enhanced if work-related travel is significantly reduced when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
... Ever-clearer evidence of catastrophic climate impacts has not, however, induced the necessary responses. Multinational fossil fuel producers and recalcitrant states continue to contest climate science, and invest heavily to redirect blame and responsibility away from themselves 3 . In many nations, climate-driven disasters and scientific confirmation of temperature shifts have also failed to catalyse policies and votes, refuting assumptions that crisis and evidence will inevitably drive collective commitment and action 4,5 . ...
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Standard solutions to the threat of >1.5 °C global average warming are not ambitious enough to prevent large-scale irreversible loss. Meaningful climate action requires interventions that are preventative, effective and systemic—interventions that are radical rather than conventional. New forms of radical intervention are already emerging, but they risk being waylaid by rhetorical or misleading claims. Here, to encourage a more informed debate, we present a typology of radical intervention based on recent studies of resilience, transition and transformation. The typology, which is intended to be provocative, questions the extent that different interventions can disrupt the status quo to address the root drivers of climate change. In this Perspective, the authors argue that radical, rather than conventional, interventions are necessary to address climate change. They discuss the definitions and interpretations of the term ‘radical’, and present a typology of radical intervention that addresses the root drivers of climate change.
... 149 Such notions regarding policy perfection, exemplified by the characterisation of enforced policies as 'confusion' in Bergman and Radetzki's book, could also, as suggested by Lamb and his co-authors, effectively delay climate action. 150 It is also clear that there is a tension between arguing for global treaties to level the playing field or arguing against such treaties, such as the case against a global carbon tax due to the infringements it would lead to in terms of the autonomy of firms. ...
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Neoliberal and conservative actors, financed by the fossil fuel industry, have been identified as crucial parts of a climate change denialist counter movement since at least the 1980s. We claim that this intersection stems from more than just vested interest fuelling advocacy groups. By focusing on the intellectual developments and social networks of core actors in the environmental debate in Sweden, we trace the history of opposition to environmental regulation in a country proclaiming to be an environmental pioneer. Our analysis shows that while the framing of climate change in terms of complexity initially provided actors with arguments for neoliberal policies, the obstruction of climate and environmental action was steeped in a neoliberal thought style. Our findings demonstrate the importance of scrutinising economic paradigms and thought styles that has enabled the delay of climate policy as well as the continued need for historical and geographically specific studies of obstruction.
... However, this approach perpetuates incrementalism when transformative change is critical ) and required to address this existential crisis. Feasibility in the context of an imperative for transformation is determined by political will, multi-sectoral leadership, political incentives, innovation, and risk-taking (McHugh et al. 2021), and questioning the feasibility of action is a form of surrender (Lamb et al. 2020). The evidence that councils are no longer challenging the desirability of approving these pathways is an 863 Herbert et al. ...
... Only 23% of reports published between January 2009 and December 2020 by MIT-EI, Columbia CGEP and Stanford's Natural Gas Initiative included explicit funding acknowledgements. Lamb et al. 22 argue that the early industry tactic of outright denial of anthropogenic climate change has since evolved into more nuanced 'discourses of climate delay', where the industry now promotes 'non-transformative solutions', redirects responsibility for climate change and asserts that major technological breakthroughs are 'just around the corner'. This forestalls the transition to current renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. ...
... This forestalls the transition to current renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. From the perspective of Lamb et al. 22 , favourability towards natural gas as expressed by academic surrogates, including more recently 'blue hydrogen' [23][24][25][26] , can be viewed as climate action-delaying tactics. Nevertheless, top research universities continue to receive fossil fuel company donations to fund their energy policy centres. ...
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Methane is 28 to 86 times more potent as a driver of global warming than CO2. Global methane concentrations have increased at an accelerating rate since 2004, yet the role of fossil fuels and revitalized natural gas extraction and distribution in accelerating methane concentrations is poorly recognized. Here we examine the policy positioning of university-based energy centres towards natural gas, given their growing influence on climate discourse. We conducted sentiment analysis using a lexicon- and rule-based sentiment scoring tool on 1,168,194 sentences in 1,706 reports from 26 universities, some of which receive their primary funding from the natural gas industry. We found that fossil-funded centres are more favourable in their reports towards natural gas than towards renewable energy, and tweets are more favourable when they mention funders by name. Centres less dependent on fossil funding show a reversed pattern with more neutral sentiment towards gas, and favour solar and hydro power.
... Whether we talk about threats to food security, global health or biodiversity, scientific messaging is either not getting through to the public (de Bruin et al., 2021), or is being drowned out by sophisticated misinformation campaigns (Lewandowsky, 2020). There are now entire think tanks dedicated to occluding or misinterpreting scientific findings related to the biospheric emergency (Dunlap and Jacques, 2013;Jacques et al., 2008;Lamb et al., 2020;Lewandowsky, 2021), and recent research highlights that accurate information about climate and ecology can easily be eroded by misinformation (Nyhan et al., 2022). To make matters worse, scientific responses to misinformation campaigns tend to be dispassionate and directed at those in power (who are keen to maintain the status quo), rather than passionate and directed at the people being misinformed: in short, a recipe for disaster (Steinberger, 2019). ...
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Our current economic and political structures have an increasingly devastating impact on the Earth's climate and ecosystems: we are facing a biospheric emergency, with catastrophic consequences for both humans and the natural world on which we depend. Life scientists-including biologists, medical scientists, psychologists and public health experts-have had a crucial role in documenting the impacts of this emergency, but they have failed to drive governments to take action in order to prevent the situation from getting worse. Here we, as members of the movement Scientist Rebellion, call on life scientists to re-embrace advocacy and activism-which were once hallmarks of academia-in order to highlight the urgency and necessity of systemic change across our societies. We particularly emphasise the need for scientists to engage in nonviolent civil resistance, a form of public engagement which has proven to be highly effective in social struggles throughout history.
... Pessimistic pronouncements receive numerous criticisms, including: (1) they generate fear and despair, which only encourage inaction; (2) they ignore evidence showing that the world is becoming a better place for human flourishing; (3) they cherry pick scientific data and select the worst from a range of possibilities; (4) they underestimate human creativity and the potential of new technologies; (5) they are the product of Western white male privilege and misanthropy; (6) they underplay human agency, particularly as it is expressed through activism and political change. The leading climate scientist Michael Mann has even stated that "doomism today arguably poses a greater threat to climate action than outright denial" (Mann 2021, p. 179; see also Lamb et al. 2020). However, the boundaries between climate pessimism and radical calls for change are porous. ...
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This article builds on scholarship that understands climate change not only as a geophysical phenomenon, but also as a complex idea. It argues for a historicised analysis of what it terms “climate pessimism”: the belief that catastrophic global heating cannot be prevented. Focusing especially on nonfictional texts by Jonathan Franzen and Roy Scranton, it suggests that climate pessimism draws on a Western intellectual tradition that takes a sceptical view of human capacities and the possibility of progress. At the same time, climate pessimism tends to evoke an idea of atomised human nature associated with capitalistic modernity. Franzen draws on ideas from evolutionary psychology in a rather simplistic way. Scranton, a more complex thinker, engages not only with Buddhist thought but also with the philosophies of Benedict Spinoza and Arthur Schopenhauer. Although often criticised as a “doomer”, he sometimes moves towards an epistemological pluralism and sense of human potentiality. The concluding section brings in the concept of the pluriverse as both a corrective to climate pessimism’s tendency to Westerncentrism, and a point of connection to Scranton’s work.
... This debate carries over into social media, where supporters of various political camps use common platforms to share their thoughts and debate about these topics. These discussions can be classified with the so-called Discourses of Climate Delay by Lamb et al. [1], which "accept the existence of climate change, but justify inaction or inadequate efforts" [1]. Lamb et al. identified different kinds of discourses ranging from a change of topic to the use of misor disinformation about outcomes of climate action. ...
... This debate carries over into social media, where supporters of various political camps use common platforms to share their thoughts and debate about these topics. These discussions can be classified with the so-called Discourses of Climate Delay by Lamb et al. [1], which "accept the existence of climate change, but justify inaction or inadequate efforts" [1]. Lamb et al. identified different kinds of discourses ranging from a change of topic to the use of misor disinformation about outcomes of climate action. ...
... Discourses of Climate Delay are strategies employed to disregard the need for action to lessen or prevent climate change [1]. The difference between these discourses and other arguments opposing climate policies is as follows: Climate denialism or climate-impact skepticism do not acknowledge the scientific consensus on climate change and the negative impact on the planet. ...
Conference Paper
Arguments that seek to justify the lack of measures to combat anthropogenic climate change have been identified in public discourse and characterized into four distinct Discourses of Climate Delay. Reddit provides a useful source of data for discourse research. While discourse on other social media platforms is prone to polarization due to echo-chamber effects, the prevalence of these effects on Reddit is disputed. We used the Reddit and pushshift APIs to acquire data from posts on the popular political communities r/democrats and r/Republican. We then used intercoder-validated deductive qualitative content analysis based on the defined Discourses of Climate Delay to identify if Reddit users employ different Discourses of Climate Delay based on their political group affiliation. We find that members of r/Republican tend to employ arguments based on preventing change, while those in r/democrats preferentially use arguments that emphasize the complexity necessary for implementing structural changes.
... McKie [26] analyses the 'neutralization techniques' used by organisations aiming to prevent or slow down climate action by spreading uncertainty and climate denial. Although not related specifically to the oil industry, the categorisation of 'discourses of climate delay' in public discussion around climate change by Lamb et al. [27] is also highly relevant. ...
... In the context of academic literature, acceptance responses are examples of the 'discourses of climate delay' discussed by Lamb et al. [27]. These include calls for well-being and social justice, which are used to emphasise the downsides of climate change mitigation. ...
... The projection of tension to other companies is closely linked to what Lamb et al. [27] call 'whataboutism': using the fact that other actors contribute to climate change as an excuse to avoid reducing one's own emissions. ...
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The operating model of the global oil industry is not compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement. For the industry, there is a fundamental tension between two competing mandates: the pressure to contribute to the social goal of climate change mitigation, and the need to perform financially and meet obligations to shareholders in activities that directly contribute to climate change. To explore the range of responses to the tension, we interview professionals from large international oil companies who work or have worked in climate related roles. This is novel data from a professional group that has not previously been interviewed in depth about climate change. We develop a framework of six archetypical responses to tension within the oil industry. Examples of strategic responses include accepting the paradox to choose priorities other than climate change mitigation and confronting the paradox to demand changes to the way the oil industry operates. Examples of defensive responses include the transfer of responsibility and projection of tension to other stakeholders. Responses calling for change in the oil industry are the most common among people who have left the industry and the least common for participants from companies headquartered outside of Europe. In a field marked by controversies and value-based debates, a better understanding of the views of people working on the energy transition inside the oil industry provides new insight into the discussion about possible routes to the sustainability transition.
... Aviation lobbies have obviously claimed this figure is low so the aviation industry should not be blamed. This is known as a "whataboutism" argument, namely other sectors emit more GHGs (Lamb et al., 2020). The airline industry claims its efforts towards "green" aviation should be acknowledged, even though there is actually no short-or medium-term serious solution beyond "technological optimism" discourses (Lamb et al., 2020) and greenwashing strategies (Peeters et al., 2016;Baer, 2020;Gössling and Lyle, 2021) so the "need to grow remains unquestioned" (Köves and Bajmócy, 2022). ...
... This is known as a "whataboutism" argument, namely other sectors emit more GHGs (Lamb et al., 2020). The airline industry claims its efforts towards "green" aviation should be acknowledged, even though there is actually no short-or medium-term serious solution beyond "technological optimism" discourses (Lamb et al., 2020) and greenwashing strategies (Peeters et al., 2016;Baer, 2020;Gössling and Lyle, 2021) so the "need to grow remains unquestioned" (Köves and Bajmócy, 2022). However, due to public concern for climate change, public authorities are looking to be seen as acting against climate change. ...
Article
Several countries have considered banning or even decided to ban or tax super short-haul flights, arguing that the availability of rail alternatives makes them unnecessary. Such policies result from the need for governments to be seen as acting to mitigate climate change and scholars favouring energy (climate) efficiency perspectives over the absolute amount of fuel burnt (greenhouse gas emissions emitted). Yet climate change is due to absolute emissions, and it is a fact that the longer a flight is, the greater the amount of fuel is burnt (emissions). Considering all departing flights from 31 European countries, our study found that flights shorter than 500 km account for 27.9% of departures but 5.9% of fuel burnt. In contrast, flights longer than 4,000 km account for 6.2% of departures but 47.0% of fuel burnt, although with significant variation across countries. We conclude that targeting shorter flights (which often exist to alleviate physical obstacles imposed by physical geography) will contribute little to reducing the impact of aviation on climate, and that policy initiatives that target longer flights are urgently needed.