THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CLIMATE ACTION AND THEORY is a public-facing climate-focused transformative knowledge network, research collaboration forum, and media hub. This website is our research archive — like a public file cabinet with which we share our sources and publish our work.
Our Mission begins with the better understanding of global warming, climate change, and the ensuing international struggle to institute the just rule of law in defense of planetary ecology and its constituent peoples and species.
Toward that end, we work to render climate science, economic history, civil society (& its constituent social movements), and the institutions of emergent global economic and environmental governance accessible to the general public—while also striving to make such lay-knowledge available and useful to a wide range of interdisciplinary scientists, NGOs, scholars, theorists and activists.
We believe that sharpest tool for shaping international climate policy in the interest of climate justice and human rights is our understanding and use of the founding speech of the global governing institutions themselves, namely: the United Nations Charter (pdf), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (pdf), The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC.org) (pdf), and most recently the Paris Agreement (pdf).
These institution-creating documents set up a perpetual public process of policy-making discourse.
If today these international institutions appear to be failing, not reaching their potential, or even reneging on their promise, because the problems of maintaining and expanding human rights and economic and environmental justice that they seek to solve appear to be getting worse, not better, that suggests that renewed study of their founding speech and constitutional documents would be beneficial.
In 2016 IICAT is launching a new 5-year conflict-seeking participatory-action research project aimed at understanding emergent global economic and environmental self-governance by participating in the UN climate talks, building the climate justice movement, and producing public knowledge for global civil participation (in the form of iicat.org itself, the academic analyses here published, our regular academic publication of books and journal articles, and using innovative film production for public communication).
We do this work in the interest of fostering new collaborations and synthesizing new data and skills that together stand a better chance of contributing to the equitable mitigation of global warming and the expansion of human rights.
FROM MITIGATION TO CLIMATE JUSTICE
Because the concept of mitigation means the lessening of emissions in order to slow the pace of the planet’s present warming trend, and not the elimination of that warming, it implies a scenario requiring adaptation to global warming that is already locked in by historical emissions.
But the concept of adaptation itself leads even further—to the recognition that loss and damage from climate change is already occurring, especially among the least developed and poorest countries, whom for historical and geographical reasons stand most in the need of financial help and technological assistance in order to survive the associated social and ecological challenges.
Here we see how quickly the science of global warming and climate change leads to questions of climate justice, for the science currently predicts that carbon-fueled industrial development to date, which has disproportionately benefited the most industrially developed countries of the global north, is on target to produce a minimum average of 4 degrees Celsius warming this century, and more likely a 6 degree increase or higher, the negative impacts of which are likely to fall disproportionately on the least developed, least prepared nations of the global south.
This direct path from the science of climate change to the politics of climate justice raises complex ethical questions about power and governance, while also demonstrating how the problems associated with global warming already require an interdisciplinary response from all interested parties.
At IICAT, we work to bridge the domains of academic science and the hands-on work of building appropriate legal, policy, program and social movement responses at every scale, local to global.
We hope users of this site will find resources and insights that help them develop solutions relevant to their specific jobs, projects, programs, and movements, as well as help them contribute to the global struggle for climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable development, and ethical climate governance.
IICAT: DEVELOPING KNOWLEDGE FOR CLIMATE ACTION & ETHICAL CLIMATE GOVERNANCE
By international we mean that IICAT moves in the space shared by the new transnational social movements, the global brainstorm of intellectuals and culture producers, and the contested institutions of global economic and environmental governance (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc.).
By institute we mean a place, a space, and a goal – to bring people and ideas together to create and synthesize knowledge to inform climate action and advance climate justice.
By climate action we mean climate action policy for mitigation and adaptation to global warming and the social movements that demand climate action policies that are scientifically sound, prompt, and socially just.
By theory we mean critical theory: the production and synthesis of useful knowledge that negates the social and ecological failures of current social organization—and in this case that means knowledge informing and leading systematic social transformation away from unsustainable fossil fuel-driven industrial economic activity and toward sustainable development fueled instead by clean renewable energy sources.
PUBLIC SOCIOLOGY — social science inside the struggle for global climate justice
IICAT scholars use every method in the social science tool box to study all of the social forces constitutive of the struggle to protect the fragile climate of planet earth, including:
1) the economic actors whose collective labor is driving anthropogenic climate change (both state run and private corporations, labor unions, workers, etc.), and
2) all of the manifold civil society groups (Non-Governmental Organizations) and social movements that each in their own way contribute to emergent global economic and environmental governance, globalization, and the ensuing ecological crises.
3) the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its signatory nations, their domestic climate policies, and their national contributions to the UN climate talks, especially their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the first universal climate treaty, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, adopted at the UN climate talks in Paris, France, December 12, 2015.
We see each of these social forces as themselves constituted by myriad smaller scale social forces.
For example, the economy as a social force shaping emergent global environmental governance is itself constituted by the forces of corporations, various work forces, labor unions, and individuals as contributors of their labor energy to the productive process.
In this context, it is crucial to understand that social forces are not things—rather, each one must be conceived dialectically as the emergent outcome of conflicting social interactions among individuals and groups directing their attention and their efforts toward common objects.
The distinguishing characteristic of our method is conflict seeking participatory action research, by which we mean the opposite of cool, detached observation of and reflection on these social forces.
Simple put, we study all of the social forces engaged in climate politics and their interaction at every scale.
Founding IICAT scholars John Foran and Richard Widick have represented the University of California as official Observer Delegates to the UNFCCC at COPs 17 – 21, from Durban to Doha to Warsaw to Lima and finally to Paris, where, under a state of emergency that stifled what promised to be the largest environmental protests, the first ever truly universal climate treaty was adopted December 12, 2015.
And in 2011 we created this Institute for the purpose of making our climate-focused social science research public.
It is our tool for institutionally participating in and contributing to the production and implementation of the new treaty, which will go into effect in 2020.
We have since added two additional scholars, Dr. Michael Dorsey of Washington, DC, and Dr. Adrian Nel of Durban, South Africa.
We met Dr. Michael K. Dorsey at 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, convened in Durban, South Africa, December 2011 — the birth site of the Paris Agreement — and since that time he has generously brought us inside his decades long study of climate politics in general, and UN the climate negotiations in particular.
Over the years, Dorsey has represented several organizations as an official Observer Delegate to the UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties (COPs), which he has attended nearly every year since since they began in 1995 at COP 1 in Berlin.
At the Rio Earth Conference in 1992, Dorsey left an early mark on the process when security forcefully removed him for publicly insisting on better representation for the least powerful and most affected members of society. At the Rio +20 Conference in 2012, Dorsey again left his mark, as evidenced in his interview on Free Speech TV.
This year Dorsey will be with us in Paris for the UN climate talks, as together we push for the most inclusively democratic and environmentally just outcome possible.
Dr. Adrian Nel is Professor of Development Studies at KwaZulu Natal University, South Africa.
Dr. Nel brings deep experience from the horizon of carbon sequestration debates in sub-Saharan Africa, where he studies the transformation of rural life ways in the context of encroaching global mandates for carbon sequestration in the African forestry and agricultural sectors.
Dorsey, Foran, Nel and Widick presently designing the second phase of IICAT’s mission, which will focus on the social forces constitutive of the crucial Paris Agreement on Climate Change and its effects on human rights and climate justice in the new policy domains into which the Agreement is promising to pump hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming years and decades.
Our UNFCCC Press Conference can be reached through the top link on the right side bar of this page.
Scroll down and explore our previous interventions at COP 20 in Lima 2014; COP 19 in Warsaw 2013; COP 18 in Doha 2012, and COP 17 in Durban, South Africa 2011, where the Paris Agreement was launched.
We released this IICAT SPECIAL REPORT at COP 20 in Lima, Peru, on December 5, 2014.
Download the report: What Now For Climate Justice? (IICAT 2014)
Watch the UN Press Conference: IICAT: Special Report Press Conference,
December 5, 2014
Also please watch our final UN Press Conference, produced on the last scheduled day of COP 20 in Lima, December 12, 2015.
Assessing Lima’s Outcomes, Identifying Social Movement Strategies for Paris, December 12, 2015.
– Speakers –
Michael Dorsey, Sierra Club
Jagoda Munic, Friends of the Earth, ITL
Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) – please read CEO’s 2014 report on the many ways multinationals both drive and profit from climate destruction, Corporate Conquistadors
NOTE: On September 14, 2015 we discovered that the online Webcast On Demand Archives for COP 18 in Doha 2012 and COP 19 in Warsaw 2013 are offline; we hope the UNFCCC will remedy this quickly; the path to the archives is not easy: go to UNFCCC > Meetings > select desired meeting > Webcast … FROM HERE DOWN THE LINKS ON THIS PAGE ARE DEAD – Again, we hope the UNFCCC fixes this problem and our readers can continue to see our earliest Press Conferences.
The previous year, at the UNFCCC COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland, 2013, we hosted the following two official UN Press Conferences.
Also, please watch all of the other UN Press Conferences, hosted by a variety of Civil Society Groups and Coalitions.
At the UNFCCC COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, 2012, IICAT scholars John Foran and Richard Widick, acting as official delegates representing the University of California, hosted our first five official UN Press Conferences.
Watch them in reverse chronological order by following the links below, and stay tuned to iicat.org and the UNFCCC webcast archive for more IICAT Press Conferences coming this November/December, from COP 21 in Paris.
1. What Must the Durban Platform Do? Perspectives from IICAT and Global Civil Society, December 7, 2012.
SPEAKERS: John Foran (IICAT), Michael Dorsey, Anjali Appadurai (Earth in Brackets), Sarah Rifat (350.0rg), Janet Redman (Institute for Policy Studies), Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network), Meagan Van Buskirk (Canadian Youth Delegation), and Lidy Napcil (Jubilee South).
SPEAKERS: John Foran (IICAT), Niranjali Americasinghe (Center for International Environmental Law), Christophe Schwarte (Legal Response Initiative), and Brook Meakins (attorney, activist, author Drowning Islands).