Climate change leadership

Leadership is an important factor for us to achieve a more sustainable society. Various strategies are needed for reduced emissions and climate adaptation. Uppsala University has ongoing research in leadership in every disciplinary research domain. By cooperating between the various disciplinary research domains, a new possibility arises for entirely new research.

Focus areas

Research in the Climate Leadership initiative is conducted through the following three thematic areas:

International and national perspectives and governance and regulation of climate issues

In this area, focus is on several levels since the rules that govern climate issues affect various levels. On an international level, there is for example the Paris Agreement and the EU climate targets. On a national level, there is Sweden’s climate strategy. On a more local level, the municipalities in Sweden have climate goals. The area concerns which policies and laws are enacted, how well measures are implemented and the extent to which they contribute to achieving the goal. In order for climate leadership to work, it is important that many different roles can interact. Within this area, particular focus will be on Sweden’s role. The overall research question is: How does Sweden contribute to adopting and implementing the policies, laws, norms and institutions needed to solve the climate change challenges on an international, national and local level?

The role of universities for climate leadership

Central to the discussion of the universities’ role in climate leadership is how we can renew and be on the forefront in terms of the question of sustainability as content in university education. The area explores how universities can develop the education among students and teachers within sustainability. The intention is to learn from several national and international case studies. The university perspective takes into consideration the effects of the universities’ work on sustainability and how it can impact social and financial structures in society. We ask the following questions: How can we understand existing methods for learning in our and other universities? How can universities generate knowledge that is useful to, and contributes to us achieving a more sustainable society?

Conflicts linked to climate changes

There are a number of conflicts that can arise in relation to climate change or as a consequence of societal actions to avoid them. As a result of climate change, people in several parts of the world will experience major negative changes in their local environment. When there are no longer enough necessary resources in the surrounding environment, people will begin to move somewhere else. There will be an increasing flow of climate refugees around the world. Attempts to limit climate change risk negatively impacting the poorer parts of the world. Reduced global demand for fossil fuels may, for example, impact the economies that are dependent on them. We therefore ask questions such as: How can we prepare society for these climate changes? What kinds of social conflicts can arise when leaders try to transition to a more sustainable future? What are the underlying tensions between climate justice and fair transitions, and how can they be handled?

Influencing behaviours

It is generally accepted that people’s daily activities, purchases and travel have a large impact on how the global climate develops. A major challenge when it comes to influencing the choices of individuals is that the direct effects of climate change are not visible. It is also a major challenge that every single individual’s impact is very small. Only when effects are gathered together is it possible to see the negative effect of decisions by individuals. In this area, focus is on how to motivate people to voluntarily reduce their carbon dioxide footprints. Without being fooled or forced. Instead, focus is on how to influence people by creating ways to link back to their choices. This can be done, for example, through visualisations in mobile phone apps or other Internet of Things solutions. Based on psychological theory, example systems can be developed and studied to answer such questions as: How can individuals be motivated to try to stop global warming and pollution? Can global effects be cognitively linked to everyday decisions using feedback? The goal of this area is to develop understanding for how to practically be able to apply theoretical knowledge of human decision-making, as well as how to apply this knowledge to manage difficult global challenges in an ethical way.

Email coordinator Mikael Karlsson for more information about the initiative Climate change leadership.

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Last modified: 2021-09-24