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Online event: Political imaginaries of climate change

25.08. 12:00 14:00 EEST

Headlines relating to climate change are becoming increasingly frequent in addition to becoming an acute policy issue. Climate change is included in the titles of both academic and non-academic conferences and brought to the agenda of the UN Security Council meetings. Furthermore, new strains of climate change activism, especially among the young, give the impression that the issue is – or at the very least should be – on the agenda. Indeed, climate change is taken seriously in the form of international agreements, national policies and pledges, individual activities, NGO’s campaigns, and business efforts. Simultaneously, however, different countries are in a very unequal positions regarding the “existential threat” that climate change imposes and whether it would make more sense from their perspective to speak about prevention, adaptation, or mitigation. This roundtable will focus on how we should speak about climate change and to what extent the existing frameworks are useful or constraining. The roundtable will further discuss how we can move on from the current framework into a more motivating or hopeful one, that makes use of our political imagination.

This webinar is hosted by the Politiikasta web journal and the Finnish Political Science Association. The webinar is chaired by Dr. Anna Kronlund (University of Jyväskylä) and Dr. Mikko Poutanen, the editor-in-chief of Politiikasta (Tampere University). Participants in the webinar discussion are Dr. Milla Vaha (University of the South Pacific), Dr. Diarmuid Torney (Dublin City University) and Dr. Emma Hakala (University of Helsinki & Bios research unit). The panellists have offered brief introductions to their points of view:


Dr. Vaha // From Nuclear to Climate Threat: Global Justice from the Pacific Perspective.
In October 2019, the Marshall Islands, a small island state in the South Pacific, declared a climate emergency. A month later, it published a nuclear justice strategy. Both actions are related to what might be called an ‘existential threat’. Climate change, in its potential to lead to complete state-extinction, resembles the existential threat of complete war and nuclear disarmament with its capability of causing the extinction for humanity – both threats painfully familiar to the Pacific Island Countries. This contribution investigates the nature of the climatic existential threat by looking at it from the perspective of global justice and by comparing it to the threat more commonly studied in International Relations, the nuclear threat. It explicates why these two threats are so strongly articulated in the South Pacific region and addresses how both of these threats raise serious questions of global justice.


Dr. Torney // What can deliberative democracy contribute to the fight against climate change?
A growing number of countries in Europe and beyond are using deliberative democratic forums such as citizens’ assemblies and citizens’ juries to address climate change. This contribution will reflect on this growing practice and its promise and pitfalls. It will reflect on the following questions: How can “deliberative mini-publics”, as they are often termed, help to build societal consensus around stronger and fairer climate action? Can such forums be used to create radical new political imaginaries, or do they risk becoming mirror images of the polities and societies that create them, thereby reconfirming existing path dependencies? Where is agency located in these processes? How can they be effectively and legitimately integrated into existing institutional settings?


Dr. Hakala // “Waging a war on the nature”: The securitization of climate change as agenda-setting or policy-making?
As a result of the increasingly shared perception of climate change as a security threat, its consequences are now being widely acknowledged in risk assessments and security policy debates around the world. However, efforts to turn the recognition into preventive measures or concrete climate security policy have largely been missing. This has also prompted concerns that the securitization of climate change will only have the impact of limiting democratic debate about it without contributing to its mitigation. In the light of these contradicting perspectives, this contribution will consider the preconditions for developing effective climate security policy while remaining within the sphere of democracy and civil society.

Please register by 18:00 on Friday 20th August. Register to the event via this Forms link. After you have registered, a link to the seminar will be sent to you before starting.


The event is a part of the year of research-based knowledge in Finland.