Environmental Researcher Recruited as Lecturer in Climate Change Leadership

2021-01-22

Mikael Karlsson from KTH starts 15 March. 

"I plan to gear up the work with Climate Change Leadership; in research, in the interactions of business and politics and not least in dialogue with the public.”

Mikael Karlsson
Mikael Karlsson starts as senior lecturer in Climate Change Leadership 15 March. Mikael is an Associate Professor in Environmental Science working as a researcher at KTH.

New position with a focus on climate change leadership.

Mikael Karlsson begins his new position as senior lecturer in Climate Change Leadership 15 March. In this new position he will direct the research and work of the Climate Change Leadership Node, which includes the Zennström Professorship in Climate Change Leadership. The node lies within the research programme Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (NRHU), at the Department of Earth Sciences.

- We are very pleased with this recruitment, says Patrik Rönnbäck, head of NRHU. Mikael’s experience, competences and networks will lead towards very good possibilities for future developments in climate change leadership at Uppsala University, regarding research, education and collaboration.

- My goal is to strengthen the rich research environment already present at the institution. Climate change leadership rests on an interdisciplinary foundation and here we have a lot to offer, both to the research community and to the public, says Mikael Karlsson.

A long history as a researcher and expert on environmental issues

As lecturer in Climate Change Leadership Mikael will research, teach and work actively to raise the general awareness of climate change.

Mikael Karlsson is Associate Professor in Environmental Science and has a PhD in Environment and Energy systems and presently works as a researcher at KTH. For several years he was the president of the Swedish Nature Protection Society and he has also been the president of Europe’s biggest collaborative organisation for environmental groups, EEB. Mikael has worked as a researcher at Södertörns Högskola as well as Karlstad University, where he developed the subject of Environmental Science. He is a board member of the Forest Association and The Nuclear Waste Council, active in the Swedish Government´s council for environmental issues and has worked in  several environmental expert groups in Sweden and the EU. Today he is member of the EU Commission’s group on energy intensive industry.

Mikael wants to emphasise the benefits

- At the end of 2019, Mikael was poised to launch a two-year long tour around Sweden advocating for climate and science. The intention was to develop communication between environmental- and climate scientists and the public, journalists and politicians. Alongside Mikael, researchers from ten other Swedish universities were to participate in the tour, ending at the Swedish Parliament. However, the pandemic interrupted the project. From a conversation with Mikael, it is evident that he feels an urgency to reach out broadly with environmental- and climate questions. He is not a fan of scare tactics and refrains from presenting dystopias that lead towards climate anxiety; on the contrary he wants to emphasise the benefits that a green transition can entail, without dodging the severe climate change problems that research show us.

Mikael, what interested you in applying for this position?

- My research in environmental questions is broad and I will not let go of that, but in this position I will also have the opportunity to carry out in-depth studies regarding the bottle necks in environmental policy. If we know so much – why is so little happening? What role does climate denial, polarization and sluggish decision-making processes play? These are important questions concerning the climate change leadership like how forerunners among countries and businesses can stimulate others. Since all efforts to reach the environmental goals must rely on science, it is also important that we get better at outreach. Researchers must offer to help coach decision makers, businesses and civil society. Therefore, I want to encourage and help others take on the role as climate change leader.

You will also be teaching. Is there a special course that you already plan to offer?

Yes, apart from the present courses, I would like to offer a new course; a climate course to the public. I think such a course is needed and I am quite sure there is demand.

There are those who do not believe in climate change, what do you say to them?

- The environmental goals rest on a broad democratic foundation; both regionally and globally. Also, there is a solid disciplinary foundation behind the formulation of the problems and solutions. But the research community needs to be better at explaining how science works and demonstrate more clearly that many of the fears regarding the transition of our society have no foundation. We need to make this happen through dialogue on a broader scale, where research is made both more comprehensible and more visible.

Do scare tactics work when we talk about the climate crises?

- It would be immoral to exaggerate environmental problems and in addition it isn´t necessary; just describing the world as is enough to create action. That said, we should not whitewash the changes that the environmental goals will demand, but actually the research shows that the transition will create several societal benefits, such as cleaner air, greater harvests and improved public health. But to make these synergies happen the political decision-making processes must be more thought through. 

Earlier you were responsible for a nationwide tour for the climate and science to counteract climate denial and to strengthen the scientific basis for decision-making. Is this tour still possible?

Yes, absolutely. We will roll this out during the year.

When the question of climate is high on the agenda, climate change deniers mobilise. Both science and researchers are questioned on unfounded grounds. This ruins the debate and complicates the possibility of making decisions. Therefore, we researchers need to develop our communication with the public, journalists and politicians; to strengthen the scientific basis for decision-making.

For more information please contact:

Patrik Rönnbäck, Professor in Sustainable Development, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development.

Email: patrik.ronnback@geo.uu.se

Telephone: 018-471 8375,  0498-108375

Mikael Karlsson, Docent in Environmental Science, KTH, soon to be Lecturer in Climate Change Leadership.
Email: mikaelka@kth.se
Telephone: 070 316 27 22

Mikael Karlsson on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/MikaelKarlsson_

Mikael Karlsson on Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikael-karlsson-b998049a/

News from the Department of Earth Sciences

Last modified: 2021-06-14