The stakes of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference: a fresh look at the climate issue (july 2015)

On the occasion of the Climate Conference to be held in Paris in December 2015, the journal Natures Sciences Sociétés, an interdisciplinary journal at the interface of science-society relations, releases a special issue titled “The stakes of the Paris Conference: a fresh look at the climate issue”. Central to this special issue is the view that the success of the conference will depend not only on the good or bad will of the 195 attending States, but also on the capacity to profoundly change the ways in which both the scientists – especially climatologists and economists – and political leaders have over time framed and sometimes confined the climate problem. This frame of action has clearly shown its limits 23 years after the signing of the Rio Convention. The present issue attempts to suggest the possible avenues for advancing further by mobilizing the most recent research work.

Starting with an analysis of 25 years of relations between science and politics on the climate issue and of the already discernible orientations of the Paris agreement being discussed, the different articles then address the core of the debates, i.e. the need to imperatively break out of the current framework and deal with the following aspects: The limits of “climate exceptionalism” which holds the foreground in international negotiations; The selection of economic tools and the impasse of the Kyoto Protocol. The long disregarded relations with development issues… which does not exhaust the obviously major question of the financial aids to Southern countries accorded by developed countries; The marginalization of the local dimension and the decisive need for an effective articulation between the local, national and global dimensions; The difficult integration of the adaptation aspect – which has suffered initially from an analytical bias; The underestimation of temporalities at the core of the climate stakes. And last the overwhelming importance attributed to the dynamics of energy supply at the expense of approaches in terms of consumption or lifestyles. Also in the field of energy strategies, the formidable weight of the coal use constraint, particularly in China and in numerous emerging economies. This issue then ends with a series of book and conference reviews.

In short, this special issue proposes an open and fresh look regarding the climate issue for the Paris Conference, an illustration of the interdisciplinary vocation of NSS.

See the table of contents