People must be placed at the heart of climate action • Earth.com
05-27-2022

People must be placed at the heart of climate action

A new report from the University of Exeter emphasizes the need for people to be “the heart of climate action.” Given that all climate solutions will involve people in one way or another, the social sciences will have a vital role to play, explained the researchers. 

“Achieving the urgent and necessary transformations laid out in the recently published IPCC report will require placing people at the heart of climate action,” wrote the study authors.  

“Tackling climate change cannot be achieved solely through technological breakthroughs or new climate models. We must build on the strong social science knowledge base and develop a more visible, responsive and interdisciplinary-oriented social science that engages with people and is valued in its diversity by decision-makers from government, industry, civil society and law.”

The experts say social science can help to engage people and societies, and to establish a green transition that is both effective and promotes other climate action goals such as equity and fairness. The report is the first paper published by the new Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environment Social Science (ACCESS) program.

“To meet our climate goals, we need both profound societal change and continued technical improvements,” said ACCESS team leader Professor Patrick Devine-Wright. “This dual approach can improve people’s quality of life, reduce emissions and ensure thriving economies and ecosystems.”

“If people are at the heart of climate action, then understanding and tackling climate change cannot be done by engineers or natural scientists alone. All disciplines need to work together – not least a range of social sciences including political science, sociology, geography and psychology – to find solutions in ways that achieve wider societal goals.”

Professor Devine-Wright said this progress should now continue, with the aim of developing more visible, responsive and interdisciplinary social science that engages with people and is valued in its diversity by decision-makers from government, industry, civil society and law.

The report is published in the journal PLOS Climate.

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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