Climate-wise – mapping the frontiers

This is ‘thinking aloud’ …. through week 2 of the COP26.

With 25000 climate-focused people from around the world, the meeting is fantastic – but – maybe something of a bubble effect.  Many of the climate adaptation plans, mitigation roadmaps etc, don’t seem to connect with the ‘big bad real world’ – the labyrinth of power games, extractive finance, corruption and elite capture, psycho-social denial and dysfunctionality of all kinds.

In the UNFCCC negotiating rooms the way through the labyrinth is framed as ‘net-zero’ – (where CO2 emissions can be offset in forests or stored underground with as yet untested technology).  Is this a convenient greenwash, or a genuine solution to a global challenge?? (does it assume that forests and tribal lands are commodities for the global carbon markets??) 

In the 100s of other parallel sessions and side events, there are noticeable gaps between the rhetoric of adaptation – inclusive, transformative, grassroots focused etc – and the reality of land, resources and power.

The $100billion finance promise is still to materialize, and this is a major sticking point in the south-north dialogue.  But from experience, wherever money arrives there will be well equipped and ruthless landowners, consultants, politicians and entrepreneurs to divert and build their portfolios.

Another fault-line – elite capture of the climate agenda – easily polarized and inflamed, when presidents or royal families arrive on private jets and lecture the world on consuming less…

Another on the adaptation side – the Chennai waterfronts had to be cleaned up for flood resilience and adaptation – but there were already 1000s of shack dwellers here living informally – once they were cleared away and put into resettlement colonies a long way out of town, the land would be ripe for development as prime hotels, malls and conference centres….

So the frames below simply open up this space of challenges and contradictions.  It seems climate policy would be great, if it worked – but often it doesn’t –  so we need to understand and bring to the surface the ‘big bad world’ effects.

Following that will be a series of forward ‘pathway mapping’, on the final day of this COP and beyond….

CLIMATE-WISE – ‘Nexus’ of contradictions

Concept mapping of 24 basic challenges, contradictions, fractures & fault-lines between conflicting domains of logic & value. 

Note this version is a sketch – online interactive version coming shortly

CLIMATE-WISE – Hard Choices

Concept mapping of 3 hard choices – structural options for climate policy

1) Climate action tries to ignore the socio-political contradictions around it: (more manageable but may not succeed or scale up)  

2) Climate action plays along with socio-political forces: power, profit extraction, commodification etc: (maybe rapid results but many disbenefits)

3) – climate action aims to be a catalyst for socio-political transformation in all domains & walks of life. (many synergies & co-benefits on the way, but could take longer and more uncertainty) 



Focusing on 1 corner of the Nexus – climatic/ social / political fractures and contradictions




Climate-wise survey

It seems climate policy would be great if it worked – but often it doesn’t… This survey aims to explore the connections / gaps of climate policy with the ‘big bad real world’, power games, extractive finance, corruption & capture, extremism & denial, to name a few…

We might then have a better chance of designing collaborative pathways through the labyrinth…

So we ask for your advice on  which of these challenges are the most crucial for your field of activity.

An interactive app is coming shortly…  before that please download the Climate-wise Survey  – highlight the top 5 challenges on the pdf or just indicate the numbers of interest, i.e. (1a) etc, – then return to