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Social and human sciences for the Foral Law on Climate Change


Published in

Diario de Navarra

Loris de Nardi

researcher Marie Curie, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra

The project Foral Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition is currently being processed in the Parliament of Navarre. The proposal not only seeks to "establish an appropriate regulatory, institutional and instrumental framework to facilitate mitigation and adaptation to the reality of climate change and the transition to a low-carbon energy model based on renewable energies". It also proposes to "prepare Navarre society and its environment for the new climatic conditions following the guidelines and international commitments in the subject".

It is a very necessary project , even more so if we consider that, although there are various international and national initiatives to curb this threat, only Andalusia, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands currently have their own climate change law.

The proposal is not exempt from criticism and can be improved on several points. Academics, experts and representatives of business and environmental associations have recently expressed their criticisms and doubts to the Commission of development Rural and Environment. Each one has made their contributions from their specialization program, sectorial interests and professional fields, although they have focused exclusively on technical-legal aspects.

Not surprisingly, the generic nature of a crucial concept, the "Education for climate and energy transition", has gone unnoticed. In fact, among the principles of climate action and energy model change set out in article 2, the principle that citizens should know and understand the environmental problems generated in their environment does not appear.

For its part, article 16 is too generic in terms of educational policies, as it limits itself to establishing that "1. The department with competences in Education will establish the necessary mechanisms and resources, so that climate change and energy transition are contemplated in the educational curricula, in the training and empowerment of academic staff at any level, as well as in the processes of assessment institutional and quality of the system educational"; and "2. The development of specialized and innovative educational projects in subject climate and energy transition will also be promoted in partnership with the Departments competent in subject energy and environment and with the relevant educational institutions". It is striking that "Education for climate and energy transition" is not even defined among the concepts used in this rule (Annex I).

In addition, the project suggests that the Education will have an exclusively technical-scientific approach and that the resources provided will only be used to "finance research aimed at mitigating GHG emissions and addressing the adverse impacts on human health and the environment associated with such emissions".

The a priori exclusion of the social and human sciences, both from the definition of educational content and from research activity (Art. 17), will prevent us from becoming aware as citizens of the global crisis we are facing and which, despite the overwhelming evidence of its seriousness, we refuse to see.

The unprecedented magnitude and complexity of the problems that we have to face as a society obliges us to carry out ever more complex, inseparable and feedback analyses, from a more interdisciplinary approach . By now it should be clear to everyone, and above all to the legislator, that Humanities can also contribute to explaining the why and how of climate change, its acceleration and consequences. And also that they have an important role to play in raising public awareness, as well as to deepen the possible measures to alleviate the present status of humanity, emphasizing socio-political and cultural factors, based on critical and reflective views that will result in local and global decision making. 

It is true that the human sciences have not addressed this issue for a long time, despite the fact that it is a determining factor for the future of humanity. In addition to being anthropocentric by definition, these sciences considered that it was a field of research of the natural sciences. However, this should not justify the legislator not taking advantage of the circumstances to involve them and exhort them to develop interpretative and analytical tools and categories to provide new solutions to the challenges of this stage of our present.

For this reason, the draft bill, in addition to stressing the need for an interdisciplinary research , should also allocate the resources that will make up the climate fund to development research in the social and human sciences. Its results, far from being mere intellectual exercises, will make a decisive contribution to the training of citizens who are sensitive to environmental problems. Their awareness of the mistakes of the past will help them to confront and manage the problems of the present.