Open Access Week 2022: Open for Climate Justice

Post by Dr Zachary Kendal (Scholarly Communications Consultant).

Swift action to prevent catastrophic climate change is essential. So why does so much climate research remain behind paywalls?

What we find, when we ask this question, is the intersection of two injustices. First, that the most devastating impacts of climate change will fall on the low- and middle-income countries of the Global South. And second, that these same countries are more significantly impacted by financial barriers to research than the higher-income countries of the Global North (Tennant et al., 2016).

These issues are at the core of International Open Access Week 2022, the theme of which is Open for Climate Justice. As in previous years, Open Access Australasia is planning an excellent series of webinars. Running 25-28 October 2022, the sessions will feature experts on open access and climate change from across Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Pacific. Panels include:

  • Climate injustice in the Pacific: How can open science support vulnerable communities?
  • Look at the evidence: Climate journalism and open science
  • All together now: Citizen science and climate justice
  • Real world impacts: How does open access tackle climate (in)justice?

You can even join a two-part workshop and collaborate on the creation of an open educational resource (OER) on climate change and climate justice. This workshop, Get your hands (figuratively) dirty to help the planet, is a collaboration between Open Access Australasia and the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).

Find out more about these sessions and register on the Open Access Australasia website.

This year’s theme asks why, in 2022, so much vital climate research remains locked behind expensive paywalls. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, major academic publishers made research into the virus publicly available, reasoning that the magnitude of the public health crisis outweighed the profits at stake. Researchers and the public are now asking: doesn’t the same rationale apply to climate research? Isn’t the magnitude of the climate crisis sufficient to make it open?

These questions also resonate with a wider open climate movement that has been gaining momentum in 2022. In August, we saw Creative Commons, SPARC, and EIFL launch the Open Climate Campaign, “a four-year campaign to open research in climate science and biodiversity in order to accelerate progress towards solving the climate crisis and preserving global biodiversity” (EIFL, 2022). In September, Branch magazine published a special issue, The Open Climate Edition, following engagement with their earlier article, “Open Climate Now!” (Dosemagen et al., 2021).

If you’d like to find out more about open access and the different ways you can make your research more open, please visit our Open Scholarship website and Open Research Guide. Staff and students at the University of Melbourne can also join our Open Access Week Researcher@Library sessions:

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