Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Policy-based evidence making

This week I am attending the annual Breakthrough Dialogue in Sausalito, California. As the evening programme is about to start, I will keep this post relatively short. The theme this year is “The Good Anthropocene”, a combination of words which some clearly have strong issues with. In fact, the morning started off with a debate between Mark Lynas and Clive Hamilton on whether a good Anthropocene is at all possible to imagine. For me, the answer is obviously “yes”. Yet, that is not the same as that I think that such a bright planetary future is certain or guaranteed. In that way, it felt a bit cliché to hear Hamilton suggesting that ecomodernism is essentially a passive belief in the market or a magic technofix whereas, at least for Breakthrough and me, it has always been very much the opposite, i.e. a call for action and radical political imagination. In that, “ecomodernism” is quite distinct from “ecopragmatism” which is more about focusing on what works here and now (rather than the far more interesting question of where we actually want to go).

In the afternoon, Oliver Geden at the Deutschen Institut für Internationale Politik und Sicherheit discussed the future of the two degree stabilization target. His talk again reminded me of how much we are all seeing what we want to see when it comes to climate policy. Rather than some neutral form of evidence based policy-making it is really, as Geden pointed out with a great term, a question of “policy-based evidence making” as old solutions chase new problems. That is definitely true, both for Naomi Klein and Rasmus. Now time for cocktails and dinner.