Five years after the first climate emergency declaration in 2016, almost 2,000 such assertions have been issued. Among the most recent, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the August 9, 2021 IPCC report as a “code red for humanity.” An emergency frame is a sense-making lens that conveys the meaning that a given set of circumstances constitutes an emergency, but do emergency frames enhance or reduce prospects for mobilizing ambitious action? A new review paper in Nature Sustainability provides a foundation for future work to systematically examine the political effects of emergency frames, and builds a shared vocabulary for comparative analysis. Among the conclusions, the authors suggest that, “relying entirely on emergency frames to motivate collective sustainability action may risk seizing up the gears of society and politics rather than lubricating them.”
Patterson, J., C. Wyborn, L. Westman, M.C. Brisbois, M. Milkoreit and D. Jayaram (2021). The political effects of emergency frames in sustainability. Nature Sustainability, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00749-9.