In this roundtable we bring together a truly remarkable set of experts from the fields of climate economics, anthropology and sociology of the climate, and the theology of climate. We propose to interrogate and wrap our heads around the obvious contradiction that informs climate thinking. The contradiction inheres in the fact that we feel the imperative to rethink economic growth because its social and environmental implications are at the core of the problem of climate change. Yet capitalist economics and global development have significant traction in discourses on climate change as holding the solutions to the problem. We invite interrogations of dominant ways of knowing the economic, asking questions as to how these dominant approaches come under pressure or put themselves into crisis; reflections on revisionist movements for degrowth and New Green Deals; and alternative, even speculative ways of approaching the retooling of the economy. Assuming an ongoing and imminent deepening of ethical concerns as climate induced suffering is more readily apparent, we also ask how the ethical and economic are intertwined.
Jason Hickel is an economic anthropologist, author, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is Professor at the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Visiting Senior Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics. He is Associate Editor of the journal World Development, and serves on the Statistical Advisory Panel for the UN Human Development Report, the advisory board of the Green New Deal for Europe, and the Harvard-Lancet Commission on Reparations and Redistributive Justice. His work focuses on global inequality, political economy, post-development, and ecological economics, which are the subjects of his two most recent books: The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions (2017), and Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World (2020). His ethnographic work focuses on migrant labour and politics in South Africa, the subject of his first book, Democracy as Death: The Moral Order of Anti-Liberal Politics in South Africa (2015). In addition, he writes regularly for The Guardian and Foreign Policy, and contributes to a number of other outlets including Al Jazeera, Jacobin, and Le Monde Diplomatique.
Michael Northcott is a Professor Emeritus of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, a Professor of Religion and Ecology at the Indonesian Consortium of Religious Studies, and a Guest Professor of Systematic Theology at the Evangelical Faculty of Theology in Leuven Belgium. Also ordained as a priest of the Church of England, he has been an active participant in efforts to develop environmental awareness and policy in churches in England and Scotland. His wide-ranging research in environmental theology and ethics has examined the relationship between ethics, ecology, and religion broadly, with a particular focus on Christian ethics, work and economic value, and climate change. Among his many books are God and Gaia: Religious Ethics on a Living Earth (forthcoming); Place, Ecology and the Sacred: The Moral Geography of Sustainable Communities (2015); A Political Theology of Climate Change (2013); An Angel Directs the Storm: Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire (2004); and Life After Debt: Christianity and Global Justice (1999).
Mizan Khan is currently both Deputy Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), and Programme Director of Least Developed Countries University Consortium on Climate Change within ICCCAD. He is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); has served as the lead negotiator on climate finance with the Bangladesh delegation to the UNFCCC since 2001; and was Vice Chair of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group under the UNFCCC from 2002-2004. In addition to his work with the government and the development sector of Bangladesh and beyond, he has extensive experience in academia. In 2015, Khan served as the Director of External Affairs at North South University (NSU). He was also an Adjunct Professor at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Manitoba, Canada, from 2009-2013, and has been a Visiting Professor or Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland at College Park; the Université de Poitiers; and Brown University. Khan has authored a wide range of journal publications and several books on climate change politics, including The Paris Framework for Climate Change Capacity Building (2018), co-authored with J. Timmons Roberts, Saleemul Huq, and Victoria Hoffmeister; and Toward a Binding Climate Change Adaptation Regime—A Proposed Framework (2014).
Patricia Elaine Perkins is a Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University. She is an ecological economist concerned with climate justice, addressing global inequities while advancing the energy transition. She is interested in the political ecology of commons governance, local economies, and energy transitions; feminist theory and practice in times of climate change; and metals and minerals resources for the green transition. Perkins has directed international research projects on community-based watershed organizing in Brazil and Canada (2002-2008) and on climate justice and equity in watershed management with partners in Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya (2010 – 2012). She is the editor of Local Activism for Global Climate Justice: The Great Lakes Watershed (2020) and of Water and Climate Change in Africa: Challenges and Community Initiatives in Durban, Maputo and Nairobi (London/New York: Routledge/Earthscan, 2013), and was the Lead Author for the 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC chapter on “Demand, Services, and Social Aspects of Mitigation.”
Paul Ferraro is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He collaborates with scientists, lawyers, engineers, and program administrators to develop evidence-based environmental programs and to understand causal relationships, both natural and anthropogenic, in complex environments. He is particularly interested in elucidating the environmental and behavioral mechanisms through which environmental problems arise and through which environmental solutions are successful. As part of this effort, he directs or co-directs two scholar-practitioner collaboration centers, the Environmental Program Innovations Collaborative and the Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research, which focus on creating a culture of deliberate experimentation in environmental organizations to test both the common wisdom and new ideas about how coupled human-natural systems function.
Cindy Isenhour is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change at the University of Maine. As an ecological and economic anthropologist, she is particularly interested in the cultural construction and contemporary reproduction of linear production-consumption-disposal systems and their associated effects on the environment and climate. Several current research projects examine the market logics and global relations of trade/negotiation that enable uneven accumulation and degradation. Other research projects are focused on policies, practices and social movements intended to shift contemporary economies and consumer culture toward more sustainable forms. At the micro-level she focuses on environmental risk perception and decision-making in wealthy, high-consuming, urban contexts. At the mezzo-level her research examines how the actions that urbanites take to reduce the climate impact of their lifestyles articulates with sustainability policy and urban planning initiatives. Finally, at the macro level her work examines the climate impact of consumption-drawing on analyses of the emissions embodied in goods and services, particularly those produced in distant developing contexts but consumed in affluent urban settings, directly addressing the reality that there are significant emissions embodied in global trade but that are not adequately accounted for in the UNFCCC process.