Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (CEFORCED)

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Illustration of climate denial

​Why do we, on a societal level, not take climate change seriously? That is the question at the heart of the CEFORCED network, which engages scholars from northern Europe and beyond, with Chalmers University of Technology as a hub.

For more than three decades anthropogenic climate change has been recognized by global leaders and the scientific community as a threat to human and more-than-human communities. As effects of our use of energy and resources rising sea-levels and rising temperatures, intense heatwaves and extreme precipitation events are destabilizing the conditions for human and non-human life on the planet. Still, we haven’t managed to bend the emissions curve, and, in fact, global carbon dioxide emissions are roughly 60 percent higher than they were in 1990.

One reason for failure is the organized campaign by fossil fuel interests and conservative foundations in the USA and beyond. This campaign – which has been called a “Climate Change Denial Machine” or a “Climate Change Countermovement” – has roots going back to the 1960’s and 1970’s but became more coherent and prominent in the early 1990s.

Within the CEFORCED-network, we are not only looking at the fossil fuel-industry to try to understand why the supposedly environmental progressive northern European countries has not managed to transition away from fossil fuels. Our historical research show how climate change was used to defend nuclear and the high energy society in the 1970’s but was then latter removed as an object from national politics. Here, ecomodern discourse played a key role to dismiss and obstruct calls for an energy transition in the early 1990’s and it was only in the late 00’s that literal climate change denial started to feature in the Swedish public debate to any degree. Lately, however, climate change has become a polarizing issue just as in the USA, with influential far-right parties and a significant far-right digital media system, spreading doubt about climate science.

Based upon publications from 2014, international conferences organised in Norrköping, Sweden, both 2016 and 2018 CEFORCED came together in 2018. Since then we have published seven peer-reviewed articles, one book (and two more just submitted), several popular science articles, organized yet another international conference (together with the Zetkin-collective), and appeared frequently on national and international media. Scholars within the project are regularly asked to comment on current events and to hold public talks.

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