“Climate Change means Cultural Change”

06/09/2009 – The foreseeable consequences of dangerous climate change call for combined global efforts for climate protection – efforts that require great social, political and cultural changes. These aspects of climate protection will be discussed for the first time between scientists of various disciplines and international experts from the worlds of politics and business. The conference from June 8-10 in Essen (Germany) aims to consolidate the social debate on climate change and provide new incentives for scientific policy advice in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The conference is hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI) and Stiftung Mercator, in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
“Climate Change means Cultural Change”
(from left:) Magdalena Schaeffer, KWI, Bernhard Lorentz, Stiftung Mercator, Claus Leggewie, KWI, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, PIK, Hermann E. Ott, Wuppertal Institut. Credit: Stiftung Mercator

International scientists hold the first ever debate on the contribution of cultural studies to climate research

Contributors and speakers at the conference “The Great Transformation – Climate Change as Cultural Change“ are, amongst others, the cultural scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon, the German Federal Minister for the Environment Sigmar Gabriel, oceanographer Stefan Rahmstorf, social scientist Lord Anthony Giddens, economist and chief author of the 4th IPCC-report Ottmar Edenhofer, former UNEP chairman Klaus Töpfer, and advisor to Obama John Podesta. In order to develop solutions and strategies, which scientific policy advisors can feed into the international negotiations on the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the participants will explore four themes: the economics of climate change, global cooperation, behaviour patterns and democracy.

“The four themes of this conference outline the depth and scope of the political and cultural change currently taking place in the world society, which can justly be termed a new “Great Transformation””, says Claus Leggewie, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI). “Climate change means cultural change. In order to implement new market organizations, new forms of global governance and new technologies, we firstly need to see a profound shift in attitudes and a new culture of participation.”

“Stiftung Mercator aims to establish an understanding of the chances offered by a change in direction”, says Bernhard Lorentz, President of Stiftung Mercator. “Now is the time to lay the foundations for a societal and economic transformation process, which is needed to minimize the negative consequences of climate change.” Climate change is a strategic focus of Stiftung Mercator’s work and the Foundation supports, amongst others, the research project “Climate and Culture” at KWI, an exchange programme for scientists between Beijing and Potsdam, and the school project “Klima-Macher!”.

“Humankind is at a crossroads,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Either the Earth System would undergo major phase transitions as a result of unchecked human pressure on nature’s capacities and resources or a “Great Transformation” towards global sustainability would be initiated in due course. “Neither transitions nor transformations will be manageable without novel forms of global governance and markets, and also of cognitive awareness and political participation that will be addressed by this conference”, says Schellnhuber.

“It is our mission to translate the requirements of climate protection into specific courses of action for all members of society”, states Manfred Fischedick, Vice President of the Wuppertal Institute. “Therefore, we carry out research on the interface of technologies, policy instruments and new value models, so as to make our society more sustainable." Hermann E. Ott, Head of the Institute’s Berlin office, adds: “In light of the complex problems we are facing, we need to form research alliances like the ones we created for this conference. Bringing together our knowledge and also our differing points of view contributes to the development of solutions for ways out of the climate trap.”

“The Great Transformation – Climate Change as Cultural Change” – a brief overview of the conference:

Date: 8 – 10 June 2009 in the Philharmonie Essen, Huyssenallee 53, 45128 Essen, Germany

Speakers: Sigmar Gabriel (Federal Minister for the Environment,), Prof. Lord Anthony Giddens (former Director, London School of Economics, LSE), Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer (German Council for Sustainable Development), Prof. Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon (author of “The Upside of Down”), John Podesta (Center for American Progress), Prof. Dr. David Held (LSE), Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber CBE (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PIK), Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer (PIK, co-chair of IPCC working group III), Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner (German Development Institute), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sachs (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Member of the European Parliament) et al..

Further information on the conference online at www.greattransformation.eu

The conference language is English.

Pictures of the press conference will be available as of June 9, 2009, 2:00 pm on: www.greattransformation.eu/index.php/press


Magdalena Schaeffer
Press Officer
Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen (KWI)
Phone: +49 (0)201-7204-152
Email: magdalena.schaeffer@kwi-nrw.de

Christiane Reusch   
Head of Communications
Stiftung Mercator
Phone: +49 (0)201-24522-42
Email: reusch@stiftung-mercator.de

For further information please contact the PIK press office:

Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
E-mail: press@pik-potsdam.de