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Open DiscourseNet seminar "On the Road to Net-Zero: Climate Change Discourses in Local Government“

Fri, 06/30/2023

Join us for monthly Friday lunchtime online English-language seminars from London, in collaboration with the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the Open University, UK. 


We are excited to invite you to our last seminar for this academic year, which will take place on June 30, 2023, 1-2 (London Time): We will hear Michael Kranert (University of Southampton)  “On the Road to Net-Zero: Climate Change Discourses in Local Government“.


This paper presents a pilot study for a project that aims to increase societal awareness of the relationship between language and democratic policy-making at a local level. The project focusses on Net Zero discourses and investigates how national discourses are adapted in local politics in Germany and the UK.

Broad goals on climate change are largely set at international and national level, whereas the tangible action required to tackle the challenge of climate change is essentially implemented at a local and individual level. We therefore seek to understand how this gap is bridged by actors in local politics by addressing four key questions:

  1. How do actors in local politics employ language to shape debates and develop policy on achieving Net-Zero?
  2. To what extent do local political discourses of Net-Zero depend on the relationship between national and sub-national layers of politics?
  3. How are climate change discourses shaped in the work of local councils and local politics, and how are national political discourses on the target of Net-Zero altered when entering local debates?

The project investigates how national political discourses on climate change are adapted at local government level in different political systems by combining methods of linguistic ethnography and critical discourse analysis. We analyse textual trajectories of climate change discourses between national and local government in Germany and the UK to gain an understanding of how these discourses are adapted locally.

The paper will report on the pilot phase of the project, analysing a data set from a council debate in Germany about the EU programme “100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030” and the textual and discursive networks created by that debate. The analysis is based on recordings from the council and committee debates, the different versions of motions, as well as the broader textual networks produced by a debate the did not result in this city taking part in the programme but initiated a wider debate within the urban society.


To join our seminars, you will need to be logged into your discourseanalysis.net account (you may create one for free on the top right, which may well take two days) and then click 'Join Group' on the top left-hand side. You will then receive seminar announcements via email. We will send out unique Zoom links via email to all members of this group on the day before each seminar is scheduled. Note that we will video record all seminars. By joining our seminars, all participants agree that the recording can be made public.


Past sessions - now on youtube:

May 26, 2023, 1-2 (BST, London Time): Johannes Angermuller (The Open University): "Representing our discipline. A population of unequal academics" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQxSn7gJCf8