Theses defended

Climate politics from below: The climate jobs campaign as a social movement response to global climate governance

Kenfack Chrislain-Eric

Public Defence date
April 5, 2018
Doctoral Programme
Democracy in the Twenty-first Century
Stefania Barca e Emanuele Leonardi
Climate change has become one of the key societal challenges of our era because of its impacts on natural, human and social systems, leading therefore to multiple alerts from the global scientific community and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Those alerts, based on evidences that humans are in large part responsible of the current rise in global GHG emissions that are causing global warming, call the global community to act urgently to avoid the planet from reaching the point of non-return as far as climate change is concerned. Nevertheless, despite the importance and urgency of the matter, it is still quite difficult to conceive strong consensual global measures to fight this phenomenon mostly for two main reasons: 1) The State-centered approach of the current global climate arena that has contributed in putting the majority of world population, especially the most vulnerable, at the periphery of global climate decision-making processes; 2) the reliance on the neoliberal market to solve the crisis created by the neoliberal system of production and consumption. These approaches, as we can learn from the experience of more than two decades of global climatopolitics from above (led by States and market), have resulted in further commodification of nature rather than reduction of global emissions as intended. To revert the situation and push governments to action, there have been an increasing number of mobilizations from below (led by grassroots and labour movements). Among those mobilizations, we can mention the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign (OMCJC), an initiative bringing together trade unions, labour, social movements, religious movements, environmental/environmental justice movements among others in a common platform to fight for Just Transition to a post-carbon society. My use of the South African OMCJC is instrumental in showcasing the strengths and internal contradictions of such project, while the Portuguese Empregos para o Clima (jobs for the climate) provides empirical materials to study how a climate jobs campaign is organized and implemented in specific contexts. For the purpose of this research situated within the realm of Political Ecology of global climate governance, I use the Extended Case Method supplemented by techniques such as semi-structured interviews, direct observation and ethnographic notes-taking, and retrieval of scientific/grey literature to collect the data needed for the analysis.

Keywords: Climate politics, Climate Jobs, Social Movements, Climate justice, Social Movement Unionism