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by Emily Watt
27th September 2021

My six-year-old daughter recently chose herself a book about Greta Thunberg called Greta and the Giants. It struck me, after seeing her immersed in the story, that there is a growing appetite for books on climate change pitched for a younger market that contain facts about what is happening to our environment. One for my fellow Commissioning Editors in children’s publishers.

We are seeing the climate movement being mobilised by a younger generation. A recent Guardian Live online event – ‘How to fight the climate crisis’– featured author Naomi Klein and the young Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti, one of the UN’s Young Champions of the Earth. As Elizabeth spoke, I felt moved by the clarity she brings to the climate debate. She feels ‘humanity is at war with nature’ and an ‘ecological grief’ in the face of devastating deforestation where she lives. Elizabeth, like Greta, talked fervently about how we all have a responsibility as individuals to get involved in climate action and to be part of the solution.

What came through these discussions is that we clearly have a long way to go in the climate emergency and it is an outrage that we could be condemning future generations to a damaged planet.

The upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (31 October–12 November) echoes the voices of young activists with its tagline ‘uniting the world to tackle climate change’. In the lead up, The Youth Summit on 28–30 September in Milan is a chance for young people to feel heard and to influence conference proceedings the following month.

Bristol University Press will be hosting a webinar on 19 October, COP26 and new strategies for climate action. Join authors Rebecca Willis, Richard Joy, Peter Hetherington and Stevienna De Salle for a discussion on strategies to tackle climate change and ways to innovate sustainably. Find out more and register here.

The climate change books I recommend below are a snapshot of our recently published and imminent titles. The list is still growing and shows our commitment as a publisher to do our part to contribute to the ongoing debates on the environmental crisis beyond COP26. The books below demonstrate a call for change; they aim to widen debates about the ongoing global inequalities being faced to our ecosystems and habitats and the real political barriers that those in power pose to the climate negotiations.

A Climate Pact for Europe: How to Finance the Green Deal by Anne Hessel, Jean Jouzel and Pierre Larrouturou

Based on a successful French book, this English-language version is co-authored by Jean Jouzel, an internationally recognised climatologist, the MEP Pierre Larrouturou and social activist Anne Hessel, all of whom are impacting policy on the ground. This debate-style short book insists that change is needed on the climate issue. It offers the facts, solutions and costs for how this can happen and provides a passionate plea for fresh scientific, policy and practice thinking when it comes to the climate pact in Europe. ‘The failure to avert the climate catastrophe is the greatest moral failure of our time’. Time, the authors remind us, is running out, and it is up to us to act.

We have made the introduction to the book free to read. Download the pdf here.

 

Unsustainable: The Urgent Need to Transform Society and Reverse Climate Change by Richard Joy

This book’s main message is direct and urgent and calls for us to reimagine our social, political and economic systems so that we might transform to a sustainable society. Including impressive quotes from influential people in the climate change and sustainability debate, such as Jonathan Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future, Baroness Lynn Featherstone, Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and Sir Tim Smit, co-Founder of the Eden Project, it demonstrates that Richard Joy’s strong arguments for reversing climate change are both timely and well founded.

Richard will be on the webinar panel on 19 October. Find out more and register here.

 

Realism and the Climate Crisis: Hope for Life by John Foster

John Foster believes that realistic hope has to remain a possibility in the climate emergency debate because life insists on it. In his book, the author, a freelance philosopher and an honorary teaching fellow at Lancaster University, asks important questions such as whether ‘the timid politicians, the failed summits and the locked-in consumerism’ mean ‘we have left things far too late to avoid catastrophe’. This book argues for a deeper realism of transformation, which comes at the price of accepting that our condition is tragic. He therefore calls for a more revolutionary approach to the demands of the emergency that goes beyond what most activists have so far adopted. This is certainly a book to make you to think with, to argue and disagree with – and to hope with.

You may also be interested in the Global Discourse special issue related to some of the issues in this book: Hope after sustainability – tragedy and transformation.

 

Land Renewed: Reworking the Countryside by Peter Hetherington

Peter Hetherington perceives the two main issues facing Britain to be food and addressing the climate emergency, and he is no doubt that these should both be addressed head on. However, as he so ardently argues, there remains no overall government strategy for managing our land and addressing food security. The author explores how the pressures of leaving the EU, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing global heating present unparalleled opportunities to rework the countryside for the benefit of all.

Peter will be on the webinar panel on 19 October. Find out more and register here.

 

Cities Demanding the Earth: A New Understanding of the Climate Emergency by Peter Taylor, Geoff O’Brien and Phil O’Keefe

The premise of this book, published in 2020, to bring our cities to the fore in understanding the human input into climate change, is just as – or even more – urgent today. The authors, from geography, environmental and economic development backgrounds, show how the demands we are making on nature by living in cities has reached a crisis point. Unless we make significant changes to address it, the prognosis is terminal consumption. This fresh radical argument moves beyond current policies of climate mitigation and adaption and turns the challenge to our cities as spaces of activism to tackle the crisis.

 

 

Too Hot to Handle? The Democratic Challenge of Climate Change by Rebecca Willis

This significant book, published in 2020, is based on interviews with leading politicians and activists, and the author’s 20 years on the frontline of climate politics. It states why climate is such a challenge for political systems, even when policy solutions exist. It argues that more democracy, not less, is needed to tackle the climate crisis, and suggests practical ways forward. It explores a central dilemma of the climate crisis: science demands urgency; politics turns the other cheek. This is still as true as it was when the book was published and even more timely in the lead up to COP26 next month.

Rebecca Willis will be on the panel of the Bristol University Press COP26 and new strategies for climate action webinar on 19 October. Find out more and register here.

You may also be interested in Rebecca’s article on Transforming Society – Five things every government needs to do to tackle the climate emergency.

Beyond books, we also have some key climate change-related articles in the Global Discourse journal. These include:

We will have a Bristol University Press virtual conference stand at COP26 showcasing our most recent and related books on climate change, and will make free sample chapters of some of our key backlist titles on climate change available in the lead up to the conference, including China’s Responsibility for Climate Change by Paul G. Harris and Tony Fitzpatrick’s Climate Change and Poverty.

It seems premature to be discussing what the outcomes will be of COP26 and what decisions will be negotiated. But as a press, we will continue to push this urgent and globally challenging climate change agenda forward and make an impact where it matters. Our books and journals publishing can go some way to making a difference, to educate and to engage with the wider climate and environment community.

Please contact me with your proposals and ideas at emily.watt@bristol.ac.uk.

 

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Image credit: William Bossen on Unsplash