Seven researchers, including longtime UCSB professor of Sociology John Foran, UCSB alumni and affiliates Dr. Richard Widick and Emily Williams and current students in the PhD and BA Sociology programs Corrie Ellis, Summer Gray, Jenna Liddie and Natasha Weidner will be traveling to Poland between November 11 and 22 for the United Nations’ 19th Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change. The group is attending the conference as part of a yearlong program of research that they are undertaking on the subject of climate justice.

John Foran explains that, “Climate justice can mean many things: for us it means effective action toward the most progressive possible global climate treaty, the strongest possible social movement participation in creating that treaty, and through both of these channels, the creation of a low-carbon, sustainable, egalitarian, and deeply democratic future.”

The research team, calling themselves the Climate Justice Project of the International Institute for Climate Action and Theory (, plans to attend the UN conference to study the process of UN negotiations around climate change and to interview key actors — climate activists, delegates, policymakers, journalists, and members of non-governmental organizations from around the world. When the team returns home to Santa Barbara they plan to share their research in the form of both a film and a free e-book. Next spring, they’ll also be making presentations about climate change and activism with local schools in Santa Barbara county and hosting a free conference at UCSB for community members, academics and local activists to come together to “re-imagine” climate justice.

A growing scientific consensus has emerged that there is now only a 50 percent chance that the official United Nations target of limiting the rise in average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2050 would effectively avert irreversible climate change. We have already raised global temperatures by 0.8 degrees Celsius, and put enough CO2 in the air to guarantee anther 0.6 degree increase.

The latest reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and in particular, the view of Dr. James Hansen, the world’s best-known climate scientist, point toward the need for a treaty that will limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C ) or less and restore the Earth’s atmosphere to the scientifically established sustainable level of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide (it passed the threshold of 400 ppm in May 2013 and continues to rise).

By engaging with the UN negotiations and local community members, the Climate Justice Project hopes to accelerate the adoption of a socially and environmentally just global climate treaty that will address these threats and secure a livable future for the next generation. To support their work and to learn more about the project please visit


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.