Climate change appears to be a „global phenomenon“. Huge climate conferences, the IPCC and thoughts about “geo-engineering” show that mastering climate change requires above all international arrangements as well as the employment of technological means. But it is often overlooked that climate change experience differs locally and that the resulting attitudes and explanation attempts influence the development of climate-oriented activities essentially. Especially the local and regional level offers potentials to the preparation of effective (social, cultural, technical) solutions of that problem. This has to do with our primary assumption: communities can be seen as social transformational places of fair climate action. Events and changes that are associated with climate change lead to in the field impulses of developing new solutions – even though the results are yet to be obtained. It has to be taken into account that cities and communities define necessities, risk, chances and challenges concerning the phenomena of climate change differently and thus also develop different approaches to a solution – or don’t see any necessity to take action at all.
Hence, our focus is steered to the fact that the differences often do not follow obvious factors of explanation, such as socio-economical wealth or politically firmly-established environmental consciousness. If we look at those communities and cities which were honored for methods and projects to protect the climate, not many similarities can be seen at a first glance. Apparently, depending on the case, crucial transformational processes in the development of climate-oriented activities come into effect. The formation of common horizons of meaning, approaches to solutions, political effectiveness, the existence of local networks, the interferences of charismatic individuals and the positioning against a “threat” from the outside as well as the relations between humans and the environment can play a role here.
Against this background, the project pursues the following questions: How do climate-related transformational processes unfold on the level of communities and how are they encouraged or slowed down? Which different ways of seeing and experiencing the topic climate change can be seen on the side of different actors of a community and how do they influence the formation of climate-relevant activities?
Six empirical studies in the Alps, in which climate change is distinctly noticeable, as is generally known, will be conducted (3 in Bavaria, 3 in South Tirol as a comparison between countries). Instead of analyzing isolated one-dimensional facts, this study aims at an ethnographically inspired, more-dimensional examination of the “constellation of the enabling or obstruction” of climate-relevant strategies for action. These questions require an interdisciplinary procedure.
On that account the project is a joined project between the University of Applied Sciences Munich (HM), the LMU Munich (LMU) and the Environmental Science Center (WZU) at the University of Augsburg. Prof. Dr. Cordula Kropp and her team mainly focus on the level of actions, and networks of actors, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Gill (LMU) and his team focusses on the structural level and PD Dr. Stefan Böschen (WZU) is examining the local perception and interpretation of climate change and the associated consequences. Each partial project takes up a specific point of view to analyze the problem of the development and implementation of climate-oriented strategies for action on community level.
This study does not use the rather typical “astronaut’s perspective” (top-down-strategy), but instead reconstructs rather ethnographically – in the sense of “dense description” (Geertz) – the local level of action and its logic on three levels of examination, to systematically elaborate a bottom-up perspective – complementary to the top-down-approach. With the results from the three-dimensional analysis of selected communities and three satellite areas, typical patterns of climate-oriented strategies will be deduced and thus guidance for action will be derived.
Duration of project: 2010-2013
Project board: PD Dr. Stefan Böschen
Project Staff: Dr. Sophie Elixhauser, Dr. Katrin Vogel
Project-Flyer (German): Klima regional
University of Applied Sciences Munich
Project board: Prof. Dr. Cordula Kropp,
Project Staff: Prof. Dr. Susanne Elsen, Irene Brickmann, Jana Türk.
Project board: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Gill,
Project staff: Dr. Mechtild Agreiter, Johannes Schubert.