A realistic (holistic) approach to climate mitigation

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Taylor, Graeme
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2016
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Abstract

At this time, most climate researchers are only using a limited range of futures approaches: for example, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) future scenarios have been developed primarily with empirical predictive methods that extrapolate trends. These seriously underestimate the risk of nonlinear developments and critical failures. This article examines the Paris Climate Conference (COP) 21 agreement on climate mitigation; explains why current efforts are based on false assumptions and likely to fail; argues that holistic, integrative methods are needed to avoid disaster; and uses these methods to develop a practical strategy for accelerating systemic transformation. Despite the impressive diplomatic achievements of the Paris Agreement, there is a dangerous lag between the pace of political, economic, and technological change and the rapid (nonnegotiable) rate of climate change. The challenge is to find ways to manage the conflict between the need to work within existing institutional frameworks and the reality that they are not (and may be structurally incapable of) acting quickly enough to prevent catastrophic outcomes. This dichotomy may be resolved by using a three-track strategy: the first track will focus on accelerating existing climate mitigation efforts by encouraging decision-makers to use holistic, critical-safety risk management methods. The second track will counter ideological opposition with constructive alternative narratives. The third track will help catalyze the global movement needed to empower structural transformation and the emergence of a sustainable global system. It will not be possible to resolve many complex global socioecological problems (climate, water, food, energy, growing inequality, etc.) without transformational change. Integrative, whole-systems methods are now needed to accelerate the evolution of a sustainable global system.

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World Future Review
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Environmental Management
Environmental Politics
Social Change
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