In the last few months, important controversies have sparked pungent criticism of the science of climate change both in the scientific world and in the media. Books, articles, and conferences questioning the findings supported by the renowned IPCC are multiplying. Without denying the very existence of climate change, sceptics seek to re-evaluate its anthropogenic character and its importance. These important differences affect the social representation of climatic changes as well as the individual and group behaviours and policies relating to the changes. The opposing opinions have become polarised to the extent that public officials are torn between adopting a more “laissez-faire” approach to climate regulation and promoting proactive actions and policies aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

In this context of urgent debate, the conference aims to unravel the form, content and actors of the controversies surrounding climate change. First, we will expose the scientific aspects of the debate on climate change, thus confronting points of convergence and divergence among various pieces of modern scientific evidence. Next, we will focus on the actors central to the controversies and compare various country cases (France, United Kingdom, United States, etc.). This segment of the conference will offer a look at the financial and organisational features of both sides of the dispute, with particular emphasis on the role of the IPCC. A third part of the conference will focus on the media representation of the climate controversies and the different reactions it triggers in the general public. Finally, the conference will question the effects of these climate controversies on public initiatives and will confront the viewpoints of representatives at various levels (European Union, national and state entities).

The conference will then move to Paris, where two roundtables shall examine the linkages between ideological cleavages and scientific controversies, as well as the visual representation of these controversies. The first roundtable seeks to examine how scientific controversies match political cleavages in different countries. Do controversies stem from ideological oppositions, or do they create new political cleavages? The second roundtable will be devoted to the visualization and representation of these controversies in the public space: how does our perception of the problem influence the solution to address the problem?

We wish you a very fruitful conference, and we thank you in advance for your contribution to the debates.

Jean-Michel Decroly, François Gemenne & Edwin Zaccaï
on behalf of the organising committee

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