Editorial: Environmental-Education Research in the Year of COP 15
This year there has literally been a cacophony surrounding the implications of climate change, as the world geared up for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Copenhagen, where it was expected that the largest ever gathering of world leaders would sign binding agreements to reduce carbon emissions to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2⁰C. As we make the final contributions to the refinement of this editorial, late in December 2009, it is concerning to note that this did not happen, that civil society voices were marginalised at the COP 15 and that there has been little progress on a socially just and ecologically sound global climate change deal. The stark reality remains that developing countries – southern African countries in particular – remain most vulnerable to the risks associated with global climate change. Havnevik (2007) stated a while ago that:
The ways in which poverty, consumption and climate change are addressed, tend to blur historical, structural and power features underlying global inequalities. This makes possible the focus on market forces, such as carbon trading, to resolve the problems. However, these market solutions will not suffice, and may only delay a real solution, which will then have to be developed in a situation of more acute global social injustice and possibly deeper conflicts … Issues related to inequality, energy and climate are of a global character: there is no longer one solution for the South and one for the North. (18,19)
So where does the current state of climate change and the political failures surrounding responses to climate change leave education research in developing and developed nations? What are the implications for environmental education researchers in southern Africa and elsewhere? These are some of the questions pondered in this edition of the Southern African Journal of Environmental Education (SAJEE). As one of us (Kronlid) reflects in a Think Piece in this journal: ‘the world is one and many and … the complexities associated with climate change means that we have a shared global systematic problem manifested in a myriad different concrete ways in people’s everyday life throughout the globe. We need many different kinds and modes of climate change education research’ (Kronlid, this edition).
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