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Narratives of change and the co-development of climate services for action

Werner Krauß
Climate Risk Management 28 (2020) 100217


After the Paris Agreement, the transition towards a carbon-free society necessitates new forms of collaboration between climate science and society. In my article, I argue that the increasing participation of disciplines from the humanities represents a cultural turn in climate risk governance. In the example of my anthropological case study at the Northern German coastline, I show that the co-development of place-based climate services for action means a challenge to the science-based definition of climate change and the resulting problem-solving strategies.

Climate change materializes in form of extreme weather events, changes in the seasons and sea level rise. Local narratives represent these changes, expand the problem definition of climate change and express the multiple entanglements of weather, climate and society. Past flood disasters and interactions with the sea are presented in different configurations of time and space that put emerging forms of climate services into context. Narratives of change serve as a localization device and as a starting point for the co-development of climate services for action. Collaborations between science and humanities on the one hand, and between researchers and local actors on the other are an open-ended process.

In form of a field report, I identify diverse narratives of change and the first steps towards the co-development of new forms of climate services. In the example of a scenario workshop, I describe local visions of climate risk governance, with climate researchers as facilitators and moderators of public forums motivated for action. This essay provides an anthropological insight into this process and details the procedures of emerging collaborations, making use of field notes, anthropological self-reflection and narrative theory.

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