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Positive developments can result from climate change


Climate change is one of the most salient issues facing governments across Europe, but does it have the potential to alter the political and social order of the world? In an interview with EUROPP’s Managing Editor Stuart Brown, Ulrich Beck discusses the transformations brought about by climate change, the role of global cities in generating innovation, and why climate sceptics should put aside their reservations and embrace climate change solutions.


How important is climate change to the political and social order of the world?


In the climate change debate we tend to focus very much on whether or not it is actually happening and, if it is real, how to find an immediate solution. This is because we believe it is an extremely time-sensitive issue. However in order to understand the basic transformation which is taking place in the discourse of climate change, and the perception of it, we have to decouple the urgent search for a solution from the question of how climate change is actually transforming the world.


To my mind, this involves a number of basic changes which have the potential to bring about both positive and negative consequences. One of the most important is our idea of conflict and class. In the standard nation state model of the world, these categories are simply too soft to offer an understanding of climate change issues. Many of the transformations are already underway, even though we have not actually asked for them. Indeed we tend to overlook them, but they are visible if we conceptualise climate change from a more sociological perspective.

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