seminar series

Social Life of Climate Change

Seminar Series

These research seminars are interdisciplinary discussions around contemporary debates in the humanistic social sciences of climate change and the environment. Events take multiple formats, including standard seminar format as well as more engaged discussions of relevant readings and works in progress.

At present due to the current circumstances, seminars are taking place online via Zoom. The seminars are open to all. If you would like access to any of the upcoming seminars please email geog.comms@lse.ac.uk.

The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environment, the Department of Sociology and the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

It is organised by Dr Kasia Paprocki (k.paprocki@lse.ac.uk) and Dr Austin Zeiderman (a.zeiderman@lse.ac.uk) of the Department of Geography and Environment and Dr Rebecca Elliott (r.elliott1@lse.ac.uk) of the Department of Sociology. Please contact Dr Kasia Paprocki with any questions. Updates can be found on Twitter.

Michaelmas Term 2021 

Prof Brett Christophers
Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University

26 October 2021, 2.00pm - 3.30pm

Taking Renewables to Market: Prospects for the After-Subsidy Energy Transition

The development of renewable energy resources is currently undergoing a sea-change. With the cost of key (solar and wind) technologies having significantly declined in the past decade, governments are widely reducing or even removing the subsidies and revenue guarantees that have supported the development of renewables to date. The renewables sector is struggling to stand commercially on its own feet, however: without the collateral of state support, it is often difficult for developers to secure affordable project financing.

In this talk I discuss both this growing challenge to the energy transition and a principal mechanism to which renewables developers are turning to try to resolve it – the corporate power-purchase agreement (PPA). Under renewables PPAs, corporations ranging from cloud-computing providers to aluminium smelters contract to buy electricity from solar parks or wind farms at fixed or floor prices for periods of up to 15–20 years. Often crucial in enabling developers to raise finance, PPAs have been widely hailed as re-energizing a faltering energy transition. But to rely on the purchasing habits of the likes of Amazon and Google rather than the investment priorities of governments to maintain the shift into renewables is, of course, to raise important political, economic and ecological questions.

Lisa Schipper
Environmental Social Science Research Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Climate and Development

30 November, 11.00am - 12.30pm
*New date*
Please note that this seminar was originally scheduled for 9 November.

What is climate resilience for all?

This talk will focus on unpacking the idea of climate resilient development (CRD). While the climate is changing, many people are still living in extreme poverty and in circumstances that will make even the current amount of warming very difficult. Even if we stop emitting greenhouse gas emissions now, we still need to work hard at achieving sustainable development. However this means that we need to achieve development that is low carbon and we also need to integrate the changes in climate that we now have (ie, we need adaptation). This is the idea behind CRD - it takes into account that development still needs to happen, but emphasises that this development needs to be different to avoid making climate change worse and to build resilience to the changes that have already happened. What we know now is that there are several options that are no longer on the table due to the way that we have already changed the climate, however some pathways to climate resilience remain. However, there are two problems (1) that the window of opportunity to forge these pathways is rapidly closing and (2) the opportunities are not even for everyone around the world. The inequitable opportunities are driven by the underlying vulnerability to climate change, which creates a rift between the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change and the gap in development. Until we close the development gap and address the drivers of vulnerability, adaptation will be inadequate.

I will also address these questions: Is CRD a non-concept that only offers a false sense of hope, when we know that most pathways for many people to achieve some sort of climate resilience are no longer available? Can the idea of climate resilient development become a new development paradigm? Can adaptation, plus mitigation, plus sustainable development be more than the sum of its parts?

Myles Lennon
Dean’s Assistant Professor of Environment and Society & Anthropology, Brown University

16 November, 4.30pm - 6.00pm

Ceasing the Means of Reduction: Toward a New Antiracist Approach to Community Solar Campaigns

Environmental justice activists in the U.S. have recently launched local solar campaigns to empower communities of color as part of their broader efforts for anti-racist climate justice. But these campaigns often prioritize what I call the /means of reduction/ over the means of production. The means of reduction refers to the graphics, spreadsheets, and calculations that apprehend a good or service as capable of reducing negative phenomena such as carbon emissions or high electricity bills. By centering the means of reduction in their community solar campaigns, EJ activists overlook the extractive, exploitative, and capital-intensive material realities of solar technology production. In the process, they undercut their antiracist, climate justice goals.

In this talk, I call for a new community solar campaign approach that shifts the focus from the means of reduction to the means of production. This approach repurposes the environmental justice concept of “co-pollutants” to illuminate environmental injustices throughout solar supply chains. It then addresses these injustices by: (1) leveraging economies of scale across marginalized communities in ways that prioritize solar technologies produced under safe, fair, and sustainable working conditions; and (2) fostering solidarity between marginalized communities on both ends of the supply chain. 

Past Seminars 

Summer Term 2021

Dr Jesse M. Keenan, Tulane University School of Architecture

4 May 2021, 2-3:30pm

The (Applied) Epistemology of Resilience and Adaptation

 

Lent Term 2021

Dr Hannah Knox, Department of Anthropology, UCL

Tuesday 26 January, 1-2:30pm

Encountering Climate in Models and Materials
 


Dr Amelia Moore, Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island

Tuesday 16 February, 2-3:30pm

At the Island’s Edge: Living and Learning Within Intersectional Ecologies

 

Dr Debjani Bhattacharyya, Department of History, Drexel University

Tuesday 23 March, 2-3:30pm

Climate Futures’ Past: Insurance, Cyclones and Weather Knowledge in the Indian Ocean World
 

Michaelmas Term 2020

Professor J. Timmons Roberts, Department of Sociology and Institute at Brown for Environment & Society, Brown University 

Tuesday 13 October, 1-2:30pm, Zoom

The New U.S. Climate Battleground: Actors and Coalitions in the States

 

Professor James R. Elliott, Department of Sociology, Rice University

Tuesday 10 November, 4-5:30pm, Zoom

Damages Done: The Long-Term Impacts of Rising Disaster Costs on Wealth Inequality

 

Professor Veronica Strang, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University

Tuesday 1 December, 1-2:30pm, Zoom

Water Beings: From Nature Worship to the Current Environmental Crisis

 

Summer Term 2020

Professor Lyla Mehta, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK; Visiting Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

June 8 (1-2:30pm U.K. time)

The politics of climate change, uncertainty and transformation in marginal environments

 

Lent Term 2020

Professor Andrea Nightingale, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo

January 27 (1-2:30pm)

Unruly landscapes of environmental change: imagining a future Himalaya

Professor Miriam Greenberg, Department of Sociology, University of California Santa Cruz

17 February 2020 (1-2:30pm)

The Housing/Habitat Project: Tracing Impacts of the Affordability Crisis in the Wildlands of Exurban California

 

Michaelmas Term 2019

Dr Gökçe Günel, Department of Anthropology, Rice University 

21 October (6-7:30pm) 

Book Launch: Spaceship in the Desert

 

Professor Paige West, Department of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University 

4 November (1-2:30pm)

A prayer for the world: Climate change, engaged scholarship and writing the future

 

Dr Daniel Aldana Cohen, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

11 November (1-2:30pm)

Follow the Carbon: Housing Movements and Carbon Emissions in the 21st Century City

 

Dr Andrew Curley, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2 December (1-2:30pm)

What is a Resource Curse?: Energy, infrastructure, colonialism, and climate change in Native North America

 

Summer Term 2019

Dr Nayanika Mathur, Department of School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, Oxford

13 May, 1-2:30pm

Crooked Cats: Human-Big Cat Entanglements in the Anthropocene

 

Lent Term 2019

Dr Jesse Goldstein, Department of Sociology, Virginia Commonwealth University

4 February, 1-2:30pm

From Planetary Improvement to Energy Abolition: Against and beyond the Transparent Energy of Whiteness

 

Dr Sarah Knuth, Department of Geography, Durham University

4 March, 1-2:30pm

Rentiers of the Green Economy? Placing Rent in Clean Energy Transition

 

Professor James McCarthy, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University

18 March, 1-2:30pm

Renewing accumulation? Political economies and ecologies of renewable energy

 

Michaelmas Term 2018

Dr Malini Ranganathan, School of International Service, American University

8 October, 1-2:30pm

From Urban Resilience to Abolitionist Climate Justice in Washington, DC

 

Professor Elizabeth Shove, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University

12 November, 1-2:30pm

DEMAND: Exploring the dynamics of energy, mobility and demand

 

Dr Megan Black, Department of International History, LSE

3 December, 1-2:30pm

Divided Legacies of the Landsat Satellite: The Origins of a Climate Science Tool in American Mineral Exploits, 1965-1980

 

Summer Term 2018

Dr Anne Rademacher, Program in Environmental Studies and Department of Anthropology, New York University

2 May, 4:30-6pm

Building Green: Forging Environmental Futures in Mumbai

 

Dr Liz Koslov, Comparative Media Studies, MIT

4 June, 4:30-6pm

The Fight for Retreat: Urban Unbuilding in the Era of Climate Change