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#ATOMS4CLIMATE: The Nuclear Lobby at COP26

by Christopher Pavenstädt 

An energy source that, at least from a German viewpoint, has had its days numbered for quite some time finds new life at climate conferences: nuclear energy.

Pro-nuclear ‘activists’ at COP26, photo source:

Not only countries that still count on nuclear energy like Japan and France covered the use of nuclear energy in their pavilions, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was also there to promote nuclear energy as the green energy source of the future. The nuclear interest groups and agencies were granted quite some space to advocate at COP26, despite them fearing exclusion from the conference beforehand. One could imagine that an agency like the IAEA, equipped with considerable access to economic and political networks would focus on direct lobbying efforts, and while they did this in previous years, they were beginning to think of a different strategy for this year. Continue reading #ATOMS4CLIMATE: The Nuclear Lobby at COP26

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Unseen Scenes From COP26: E-Racing Cars And Youthwashing Events

By Christopher Pavenstädt

COP has now become a Global North Greenwashing Festival”, summarized Greta Thunberg as she closed the rally of the Youth Climate Strike in Glasgow.

COP26, Glasgow, November 2021. Photo by Christopher Pavenstädt

Greta has come a long way. In 2018, COP24 elevated her voice onto the global consciousness. The young, then 15-year-old girl talking in an accusing, emotional tone, to the distant, very formal process of the COP. Now, she doesn’t need the plenary hall anymore. Here, she was outside, missing no opportunity to distance herself from the inside of COP. My personal view of COP26 comes from my week-long experience in Glasgow, observing the unseen scenes — those which did not catch the media audience’s eye. Continue reading Unseen Scenes From COP26: E-Racing Cars And Youthwashing Events

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Climate Change in Pop Culture Part 3: alternative and independent music

by Christopher Pavenstädt

Following up on our series about climate change in pop culture (read part 1 about young adult novels and part 2 about pop songs), here are some more examples of songs dealing with the topic of climate change. This time, we focused on independent and alternative music.

Climatization in pop culture

Through climatization, a process of re-framing several societal issues in light of the climate crisis, we can also expect the music industry to be affected by its rise in salience. The environment has already been a topic in pop music for a long time, mostly as a lyrical theme – many may know songs like Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”, Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” or Midnight Oils “Beds Are Burning”. Continue reading Climate Change in Pop Culture Part 3: alternative and independent music

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To grow or not to grow? About a crucial debate for the future of the climate

by Christopher Pavenstädt

The climate question is all about the limits. Carbon budgets, tipping points, ticking clocks and planetary boundaries are just some buzzwords flying around in talks about a menacingly waltzing climate change. This has always been a problem, as the main goal of most countries is economic growth: unlimitedness of a social system meets planetary limits.

From limits to growth to the birth of Green Growth

This dilemma was noticed as early as 1972. The Club of Rome report “Limits to Growth” marked the beginning of thinking that there could be inherent limits to the ways carbon-dependent societies are functioning. But already with the political neo-liberal climate of the 1980s and 1990s, the notion of “limits to growth” vanished from public discourse. The idea of a Green Growth was born, arguing there could be both: economic growth AND environmental protection.

Graffiti of Margaret Thatcher "There is no alternative"
Margaret Thatcher – image by

Continue reading To grow or not to grow? About a crucial debate for the future of the climate

Social Constructions of Climate Futures

How People Imagine their Future in the Context of Climate Change

Which perceptions of climate futures are constructed in local, stakeholder/expert, and media discourses about climate change?

Climate change takes place independently of how people perceive it, believe in it, or talk and write about it. However, the way people communicate and debate different perceptions and beliefs about climate change affects how societies imagine and negotiate climate futures. These debates assign responsibility for the causes of climate change and for mitigating it, and they advocate or reject specific solutions – imagined climate futures thus influence the Earth’s actual climate futures.

The objective of the project is to explore how climate futures are imagined through communication and how these imaginations travel across different arenas of communication: local, stakeholder, and media arenas. Climate futures are debated across a variety of social and cultural contexts including science, politics, the media, and everyday conversation. While these different spheres of communication are somewhat distinct, they are also connected in ways that shape understandings, imaginations, and solutions that are adopted to address climate change. Debates in different world regions are both rooted in local cultural contexts and are also globally intertwined.

This project will focus on social construction of climate futures from three perspectives: a communication research perspective will deal with debates in traditional and social media, a cultural anthropological perspective will focus on local discourses, and a sociological perspective will investigate stakeholder and expert discourses. To include and compare different local, social, and cultural contexts, discourses will be analyzed in Germany, the USA, South Africa, and India. Over time, this project will explore which social constructions of climate futures win the quest for public attention.

Project coordination: Dr. Lars Guenther

Chairs: Prof. Dr. Michael Brüggemann, Prof. Dr. Simone Rödder, Prof. Dr. Michael Schnegg

Team: Daniela Mahl, Youssef Ibrahim, Christopher Pavenstädt, Coral O’Brian, Inga Janina Sievert, Jana Lüdemann, Fynn Schröder

Participating Researchers: Chris Biemann, Anita Engels, Katharina Kleinen-von Königslöw, Martina Neuburger, Miriam Prys-Hansen, Beate Ratter

Duration: since 2019

Funding: DFG – CliCCS

Our Bloggers: Who is who of contributors

Michael Brüggemann is Professor of Communication Research, Climate and Science Communication at the University of Hamburg.  He is also the Principal Investigator at the interdisciplinary Cluster of Excellence „Climate, Climatic Change, and Society“ (CliCCS) 2019-2025. His research explores the transformations of journalism, political and science communication from a comparative perspective. posts by Michael I website and contact 


Shorouk Elkobros is an aspiring science communicator and storyteller. She is pursuing a Masters in “Integrated Climate System Sciences” at the University of Hamburg’s climate cluster CliSAP. Previously, she had a Bachelor in Physics and professional experience in communications. all posts by Shorouk



Ella Karnik Hinks is currently studying her Masters in Integrated Climate System Sciences at the University of Hamburg. Having achieved her Bachelors in Astrophysics, she is interested in Science Communication, and the interface between scientific knowledge and the public. all posts by Ella



Susan JörgesSusan Jörges is a student of the Master Journalism and Communication Studies at the University of Hamburg with a Bachelor in Social Sciences. As a student assistant, she is a member of Professor Brüggemann’s team and publishes articles for different media. She is interested in issues about sustainability, health and climate change. all posts by Susan



Hadas Emma Kedar is a PhD student and research assistant at the CLICCS project with Prof. Dr. Brüggemann. She is interested in news reporting in times of crisis, and in her research she compares TV news reporting of Covid-19 in different countries. She has been transitioning to social sciences after bacheloring and mastering in the humanities, namely in media art. Professionally, she taught media art in different institutions and volunteered as a news presenter for the ‘Israeli Social TV’. all posts by Hadas



Joana Kollert is an aspiring journalist currently pursuing a Masters in “Integrated Climate System Sciences” at the University of Hamburg’s climate cluster CliSAP and working as a student assistant in Prof. Brüggemann’s team. Before that, she studied Oceanography at the University of Southampton, UK. all posts by Joana



Clara NackClara Nack is a student of the Erasmus Mundus Master of Journalism and Media within Globalisation at the University of Hamburg. Previously she has studied Journalism in Denmark and Ireland and graduated with a bachelor in Comparative Literature from the FU Berlin. As a junior researcher she is now a member of Professor Brüggemann’s team, freelancing for different media and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Clara is interested in sustainability, gender equality, digitisation and cultural institutions. all posts by Clara


Christopher Pavenstädt is a PhD student and research assistant at the DFG-cluster CLICCS at the University of Hamburg. His interests include political discourse, climate change/sustainability and social movements. In his research, he focusses on the transformative role of future-related narratives at the interface between climate movements, science and political actors for German and US-climate politics. all posts by Christopher


Louisa Pröschel is currently doing her Master’s degree in Journalism and Communication Studies at the University of Hamburg. Prior to that, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She is also working as a research assistant at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institute and her prime field of interest is Science Communication. all posts by Louisa



Felix Schaumann is a PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institue for Meteorology and the University of Hamburg. He works on climate-economic issues, and is thereby interested in most issues that are at the intersection of climate change science and society at large. A special focus of his work is on models that aim to connect natural science and economics in the context of climate change, such as integrated assessment models. all posts by Felix I website and contact


Fenja De Silva-Schmidt is coordinating the science communication project at the Hamburg Research Academy. Previously, she worked as a research assistant and received her PhD from the chair of Prof. Brüggemann in Hamburg. During Paris’ climate conference, she coordinated the “Down to Earth” study about the audience’s perceptions of news from the conference. Aside from her scientific activities, Fenja has been working as a freelance journalist. She tweets as @Fen_Ja. all posts by Fenja


Robin Tschötschel

Robin Tschötschel is a postdoctoral researcher in the team of Michael Brüggemann. His research interests lie predominantly in the area of public communication about political and societal aspects of climate change. His focus lies on the nexus of social justice, identity, and climate change, aiming to explore how societies can shape sustainable and just transitions. all posts by Robin I website



Former contributing authors
Max Boykoff, Associate Professor in the Center for Science and Technology Policy, University of Colorado-Boulder
Anabela Carvalho, Associate Professor at the Dep. of Communication Sciences, University of Minho, Portugal
Elisabeth Eide, professor of journalism at HiOA (Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus), Oslo, writer and journalist
Rebecca Froese, Masters Student of “Integrated Climate System Sciences” at the University of Hamburg’s climate cluster CliSAP
Reiner Grundmann, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Nottingham (UK)
Jonas Kaiser, Research Associate at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, Fellow at Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society
Bastian Kießling, research assistant at the chair of Prof. Neverla in Hamburg, DFG-project “Public Discourses on Climate Change
Manuel Kreutle, Masters student in “Integrated Climate System Sciences” at the University of Hamburg’s climate cluster CliSAP, student assistant in Prof. Brüggemann’s team
Bienvenido León, associate professor of science journalism and director of the Research Group on Science Communication at the University of Navarra (Spain)
Ines Lörcher, research assistant at the chair of Prof. Brüggemann in Hamburg
Gesa Luedecke, postdoc at the CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado in Boulder
Julia Mandil, Brazilian journalist and Erasmus Mundus MA student in Journalism and Media Across Cultures in Hamburg
Joost de Moor, PhD in political science at the University of Antwerp
Brigitte Nerlich, Professor of Science, Language and Society at the University of Nottingham
Sara Nofri, researcher, an entrepreneurial linguist, a consultant, media analyst, family person and foodie
Feilidh O’Dwyer, journalist working towards his MA in Journalism and Globalisation at the University of Hamburg
Alan Ouakrat, associate researcher at CARISM, the Center of Analysis and Interdisciplinary Research on Media (University Panthéon-Assas, Paris), postdoc at the CREM, Research Centre on Mediations (University of Lorraine)
James Painter, Director of the Journalism Fellowship Programme for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University
Warren Pearce, Research Fellow on the University of Nottingham’s Making Science Public programme
Adrian Rauchfleisch, Research Associate at the Department of Science, Crisis & Risk Communication at the Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research (IPMZ), University of Zurich
Markus Rhomberg, professor and chair of political communication at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, Germany
Alexander Sängerlaub, researcher and journalist in Berlin, founder and chief editor of the utopian political magazine Kater Demos
Anne Schmitz, master student in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Hamburg
Felix Schreyer, master student in Integrated Climate Sciences at the University of Hamburg
Hans von Storch, director emeritus of the Institute of Coastal Research of the Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG), professor at the University of Hamburg and professor at the Ocean University of China (Qingdao)
Felicitas Vach, master student in Journalism and Communication at the University of Hamburg
Stefanie Walter, Post-Doc at the Chair of Communication Research, Climate and Science Communication of Prof. Brüggemann at the University of Hamburg