Climate at a critical stage

Human impact on the environment has reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible and the window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes in societies around the world is rapidly closing.

These are the warnings made by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in a new paper This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown which argues that policymakers have underestimated the potential impact of climate change and need to create far more powerful responses. In detail, the paper argues for three shifts in understanding across political and policy communities: of the scale and pace of environmental breakdown, the implications for societies, and the subsequent need for transformative change.

The IPPR recognises that some progress has been made toward these transformations, but finds that most efforts have neither adequately focussed on all elements of environmental breakdown, nor fundamentally transformed key social and economic systems.

This lack of progress it ascribes in part to a lack of agency over the problem experienced by policymakers, resulting from factors including the difficulties faced by decision-making systems responding to complex problems and the power of vested interests. These problems manifest acutely between generations, with millennial and younger generations faced with the daunting twin tasks of preventing environmental breakdown while adequately responding to its growing negative impacts.

Over the next year, the IPPR will assess what progress has been made toward responding to environmental breakdown, using the UK as a case study within the global context, then develop policies and seek to understand how political and policy communities can develop the sense of agency needed to overcome environmental breakdown.

Full paper here.

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