Both advocates and critics of accelerated climate action and energy transition, climate philosophy highlights ideal analyses with little direct application in real world politics and activism and social and political scientists offer uncertain answers on how change might be supported. Around us the impacts of climate change intensify, and responses within and beyond energy systems continue to fall short of the challenge, while public discourses fragment and polarise in a ‘post-truth’ political climate, in which research findings can be co-opted or misinterpreted to political ends.

The GDRI ENGAGE project is an international research group addressing climate-energy, engaging social sciences, it is supported by the French National Research Center (CNRS). ENGAGE contributes to an international network of social sciences laboratories in partnership with NGOs to develop "committed" social sciences, open to strengthened collaborations with civil society, to increase interaction of social sciences with other scientific communities and enhance their contribution to expert and strategic processes, particularly international ones, in ways that do not sacrifice their capacities for reflection.

In May 2021 in collaboration with the ENGAGE project I helped design and convene a series of deliberative workshops on productive engagement between academia and activism on the climate. We asked, for climate and energy researchers, what does it mean to be ‘engaged’ with the issues, publics and activism in an era of ‘climate emergency’? Is it possible or even desirable to avoid ‘taking sides’?

More to follow ...