Climate change

Image of a political protest

Researchers in the School of Politics and International Studies working across the Centre for Global Security Challenges and the Centre for Global Development are contributing to global scholarship, policy and practical change at a range of different scales.

Global

Professor Richard Beardsworth, who works on developing a new normative framework for political action and climate leadership, co-directs the interdisciplinary COP26 Taskforce working together with colleagues from across the University in the Priestley International Centre for Climate. The Taskforce aims to help deliver an ambitious outcome at the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow and beyond by sharing evidence and expertise with the UK Government, NGOs and the international community. As an official observer of the UNFCCC - the framework that underpins COP26 - the University will be sending a delegation to the conference in Glasgow.

Within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) UN Agenda, climate change is represented in Goal 13. However, how does the action on climate change goals interact with the other SDGs? Are there synergies or conflicts? Dr Viktoria Spaiser has published two papers on these questions using advanced mathematical modelling and cross-country time-series data and were subsequently invited to present their analysis approach and results at the UN workshop “Analytical tools for capacity building on quantitative methods for SDG interactions and integration in national development strategies and integrated planning” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2019. Currently, Dr Spaiser continuous to work on these questions in official collaboration with the World Bank.

Professor Olaf Corry’s research focuses on the international politics of climate change, especially the security implications of climate engineering technologies. He leads the iSPACE project (International Security Politics and Climate Engineering) funded by the Independent Research Fund in Denmark. iSPACE is interdisciplinary, situating STEM-knowledges with international relations, ethics and science and technology studies. iSPACE provides a more holistic evidence-base for the IPCC’s future assessments of climate engineering.

Regional

As part of the large interdisciplinary consortia GCRF-AFRICAP, researchers in the School of Politics and International Studies work with local organisations and governments in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia to create an evidence base to underpin new country specific policies in agriculture and food production as part of GCRF-AFRICAP. Dr Emma-Louise Anderson is collaborating with Dr Stephen Whitfield (School of Earth and Environment) and Dr Michael Chasukwa (Head of Politics and Administrative Studies, University of Malawi) to interrogate the multi-level, multifaceted power struggles over the formulation of Malawi’s ‘National Resilience Strategy’.

Local perspective, local action

Research in the School of Politics and International Studies provides empirically-rich understandings of local perspectives and knowledge about climate change including work using participatory approaches. Women are often on the frontline of climate change, as subsistence farmers, trying to feed their families and as lynchpins holding rural communities together. Dr Lata Narayanaswamy’s research with Professor Chris Paterson (School of Media and Communication), along with partners at the University of Nairobi and the LSE, explores how to provide nuanced understandings of how local information ecosystems in rural Kenyan communities operate and the effects on how women find and use information to support their climate change adaptation efforts.

Dr Ian Shaw studies ecological justice and climate geopolitics and how new urban commons and systems can be built to challenge the social and economic costs of climate breakdown. He leads an interdisciplinary team called the International Green Academy whose mission is to partner universities and schools to build school gardens that empower pupils and their communities. Working with young volunteers, aged nine to 17, Dr Shaw has built a farm from scratch at Harehills charity Community Action to Create Hope (CATCH) in Leeds as part of a project called Grow Together, and those involved are now giving away the fresh vegetables they have grown within the local community. Dr Shaw is currently seeking to form partnerships with Leeds City Council and local high schools to form research and teaching networks, and design and deliver evidence-based policy.