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The Liberal “Guardrails” Against Radical Climate Action with Chris Shaw

Thursday December 14th
Doors & drinks 6.30pm; Talk starts 7pm

A majority of climate scientists agree that building an effective response to climate change requires us to abandon the obsession with economic growth. At the same time, as Mark Fisher and others have noted, it feels impossible to even imagine a coherent alternative to capitalism.

Chris Shaw, until recently Head of Research at Climate Outreach, has identified five “guardrails” within mainstream discourse that constrain our imaginations and prevent the emergence of radical political ideas that might challenge the status quo:

1. Climate change is not a challenge to individualism;
2. There is only one dangerous limit, 1.5 degrees;
3. Climate change can be resolved within existing relations of production;
4. Technology can fix it; and
5. All we need do to avert social conflict is to find new stories.

In this talk, Chris, author of Liberalism and the Challenge of Climate Change, will analyse how these five guardrails are deployed by our dominant institutions - politicians, NGOs and strategic communications experts. And how, instead of accurately representing the risks we face, they present images and narratives of life in 2050 and beyond that depict a world much the same as today, with some minor adjustments for climate impact.

Without a shared understanding of the true extent of those risks, it will not be possible for societies to organise effective responses. As a first step, we must dismantle the liberal fantasies of our 2050 future if we are to have any chance of creating credible, just, and inclusive visions of how we might cope with what is now upon us.

Kairos, 84 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TG

Doors open at 6.30pm for drinks. The talk will start at 7pm followed by a one-pot vegan supper and discussion.

£8 members, £15 non-members. Food and drink complimentary.