Governing rapid climate mitigation

Presentation Date: 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan

Presented at the Earth System Governance 2013 Tokyo Conference: Complex Architectures, Multiple Agents

Recent climate science studies reveal that the greenhouse gas emissions trajectory is moving towards 3 to 4ºC warming. This new projection most likely requires peaking total global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible followed by rapid reductions to near zero. Despite calls to immediately commence rapid mitigation, responses from most governments remain weak and show no sense of urgency. In cases where mitigation plans are present, these assume that existing governance arrangements are sufficient. In contrast, we argue that a new governance paradigm is necessary for mitigation to be rapid, inclusive, and efficient and, therefore, achieved deep emission cuts. Labelled as the ‘rapid mitigation project’, we elucidate this using historical accounts of rapid institutional restructurings. Of particular interest are accounts of World War 2 mobilisations where radical, rigorous and rapid institutional changes were conducted. While wartime experience suggests some potential strategies for rapid climate mitigation, limitations exist in the use of this analogy which should not be construed as a panacea.

Read the conference paper here.