Benno Werlen

Diverging spatial constellations of the politics of climate change

One of the central issues of climate politics is the question of scale, which entails two aspects. The first is the specific spatial constellations of politics and climate; the second refers to regional bases of action and the problem’s planetary reach.

The first scalar problem is that science develops planetary models, but decision-making bodies are primarily involved in finding solutions that have national scope. Because it is not to be expected that a fully-binding decision-making body with jurisdiction over all countries will be established in the near future, solutions are much more likely to be found in the downscaling of planetary models to regional and national levels.

The second scale-related problem affects the democratic legitimization of climate politics beyond national borders. In order to become fully politically potent, the global orientation of political action and goal setting must ultimately achieve national endorsement. To reach this sustainably, the first necessary condition is that individuals develop a global consciousness of their own living situations. The development of global understanding in the everyday lives of the majority should be encouraged and established by international institutions such as the UN and political networks.

It can be assumed that the reconciliation of these two spatial constellations is a major precondition for the generation of changes in orientation and the implementation of new politics of climate change.

Benno Werlen, Professor of Social Geography at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

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