Science-Policy Discourse on Climate Change: A Critical View on Dominant Regimes of Truth

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Julia KANERVA, University of Turku, Finland
This paper presents a critical analysis of the role of discourse in understanding and acting on climate change. The investigation is dedicated to finding explanations for controversy and inaction that continue to characterise societal responses to scientific information on climate change. This problem is examined in relation to the practices of knowledge production and dissemination of one of the most authoritative actors in the climate change debate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The paper performs a critical analysis of implicit argumentation in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The structures of implicit argumentation are approached with a linguistic method based on the theoretical framework of Scandinavian Theory of Linguistic Polyphony. Consequently, the findings are discussed according to the traditions of critical discourse analysis from the point of view of the production as well as the consumption of the text. As climate change already produces insecurity and deprivation in people’s lives, this paper addresses the ways language may contribute to renegotiating regimes of truth in relation to social dominance and power.

The findings indicate that implicit argumentation in the SPM provides no systematic message of encouragement for urgent social transformation to tackle climate change. Considering the quasi-scientific, quasi-political production process of the SPM, the findings are discussed in relation to ideological underpinnings and inequalities concerning access to knowledge production processes of the IPCC. On the other hand, the socially constitutive role of discourse is considered by discussing the findings in relation to consumption of the SPM by target audiences including policymakers, media and the publics. The findings of this critical analysis demonstrate the discursive practices of dominant institutional regimes of truth and how these discursive practices should be changed in order to accelerate social transformation required to tackle climate change.