Climate Governance in the Public Debate: A comparative study on normative demands and controversies in Germany, India and the US (Ph.D. Thesis A. Schmidt)

Climate change has been described as "the biggest challenge to humanity in the twenty-first century" (Ki-moon 2007). This is not only due to the expected serious impacts of a changed cli-mate on the livelihood of many people but also because its causes "are deeply embedded in the socio-economic fabric of modern society" (Lidskog & Elander 2010: 32). Climate change symbolises the limits of conventional, carbon-dependent development and exemplifies problematic externalities of economic growth. The issues at stake in climate policy making can therefore be depicted as distributive conflicts over the space for economic development, the costs associated with climate impacts and the burdens of changing lifestyles, technologies and modes of economic production.

What is a fair and acceptable way of dealing with these problems eventually needs to be negotiated socially: There is no objective method of identifying the ideal solution – inter alia because they depend on societal valuing of goods without a quantifiable market price (cf. Kaivo-oja 1999: 148). Moreover, decision-making is bound by the preferences of the respective political communities in which they are embedded and on which its legitimacy rests (cf. Johansson-Stenman & Konow 2010: 158; Steffek 2009: 314; Lange et al. 2007: 549). The perceptions and preferences expressed in public debates play an important role in this regard. The public sphere constitutes the central societal forum in which preferences are formed, policies evaluated and responsibility for action is attributed to actors. Thereby it is an important "interface" between society at large and politics (Schneider et al. 2007a: 136). Analysing public debates as they take place in the mass media thus sheds light on the societal basis of climate politics and helps to understand the dynamics of climate policy-making.

Against this background I analyse media debates in three countries (Germany, India, USA) and focus on normative arguments used to evaluate or to demand climate governance approaches.

Involved: Andreas Schmidt, Mike S. Schäfer (Supervision)
Duration and Funding: 2010-2014; the project is supported through the Cluster of Excellence 'CliSAP' (EXC177), University of Hamburg, funded through the German Science Foundation (DFG), by funds of the Center for a Sustainable University and the "Gleichstellungsfonds".

Publications, Talks & Poster

Schmidt, Andreas & Inga Schlichting (forthcoming, 2014): Sustainability and Climate Change: Interpretations and Claims by Societal Actors from Germany, India and the United States. In: Hemmer, Ingrid, Markus Müller & Martin Trappe (Eds.): Rio+20 – Nachhaltigkeit neu denken? München: Oekom.

Schmidt, Andreas (2013): How to tackle climate change appropriately? Climate governance norms in the public debate. Poster & Talk at the Interdisciplinary Conference of Young Earth System Scientists 2013: Understanding and Interpreting Uncertainty. University of Hamburg. 22.-25.9.2013.

Schäfer, Mike S., Ana Ivanov & Andreas Schmidt (2013): International Media Communication on Climate Change. Poster at the Workshop "International Analyses of Climate Change Communication: The State of the Art and the Way Forward". KlimaCampus, University of Hamburg. 18.-19. 4.2013.

Schmidt, Andreas & Inga Schlichting (2012): Welche Nachhaltigkeit? Deutungen des Begriffs am Beispiel des Klimawandels [What sustainability? Interpretations of the concept using the example of climate change]. Conference "Rio + 20: Nachhaltigkeit neu denken?". Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. 5.-6.11.2012.

Schmidt, Andreas & Sakari Höysniemi (2012): Climate Policy Demands of Societal Actors from Germany, India and the United States: Common Ground for Joint Action? 3rd Young Scientists Conference: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Change. University of Kiel. 1.-2.10.2012.

Schmidt, Andreas (2012): Justice in the Public Climate Debate: Interpretations & Related Policy Preferences in Comparative Perspective. 24th International Climate Policy Ph.D. Workshop. University of Freiburg. 3.-4.5.2012.

Schmidt, Andreas (2012): Gerechtigkeitsargumente in der öffentlichen Klimapolitikdebatte [Justice Arguments in the Public Climate Policy Debate]. Forschungstreffen Klima-Governance des Centrums für Globalisierung und Governance und des Exzellenzclusters CliSAP. Universität Hamburg. 3.2.2012.

Schmidt, Andreas (2011): Negotiating Sustainability: Climate Justice Constructions in the Media. German Environmental Sociology Summit: Innovation and Sustainability - Beyond Technology". University of Frankfurt. 16.-18.11.2011.

Schmidt, Andreas (2011): Klimagerechtigkeit in den Medien - eine qualitative Inhaltsanalyse [Climate Justice in the Media - a Qualitative Content Analysis]. Seminar "Medieninhalte, Mediennutzung und Medienwirkung" at the Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies. University of Hamburg. 1.11.2011.

Schmidt, Andreas (2011): Climate Justice in the Media. Perspectives from Industrialised and Developing Countries. Climate Change – Global Scenarios and Local Experiences. Center for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Bielefeld. 24.-25.10.2011.

Ivanova, Ana & Andreas Schmidt (2011): Public Legitimation of Global Climate Politics? A Comparative Study of Media Coverage in 17 Countries. Young Scientist Excellence Cluster Conference on Marine and Climate Research: Perspectives from Natural and Social Sciences. University of Bremen. 4.-5.10.2011.

Schmidt, Andreas (2011): Die empirische Untersuchung von Klimagerechtigkeitsvorstellungen [The Empirical Analysis of Climate Justice Perceptions]. Forschungskolloquium des Instituts für Journalistik und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Universität Hamburg. 8.6.2011.

Schmidt, Andreas (2011): Climate Justice in the Media - Crossnational Comparisons. PhD Students Retreat der School of Integrated Climate System Sciences. Lauenburg. 28.3.2011.

Schmidt, Andreas (2010): Mediale Konstruktionen von Klimagerechtigkeit und -verantwortung. Eine Projektskizze [Media Constructions of Climate Justice and Responsibility. A Project Outline]. Forschungskolloquium des Instituts für Journalistik und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Universität Hamburg. 8.12.2010.