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Forum XVI (Fall 2020)

Climate Action

Despite decades of activism and scientific consensus about the perils of climate change, our economies remain deeply dependent on fossil fuels. How are we to meet the challenge of global warming before it is too late? Climate Action asks what we must do to begin realizing a green future today.

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Climate Action

Despite decades of activism and scientific consensus about the perils of climate change, our economies remain deeply dependent on fossil fuels. How are we to meet the challenge of global warming before it is too late? Climate Action asks what we must do to begin realizing a green future today.

Leading off a forum, Charles Sabel and David G. Victor argue that global climate change diplomacy—from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the 2015 Paris Agreement—has monopolized policy thinking but failed to deliver significant results. Instead, the authors suggest we must embrace what they call “experimentalist governance.” Taking inspiration from the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey as well as from the Montreal Protocol’s successful approach to another environmental crisis—ozone depletion—they contend that deep decarbonization of the economy can only be achieved by integrating bottom-up, local experimentation and top-down, global cooperation.

Respondents consider how that program might work in practice, where it fits alongside plans for a Green New Deal, and what political forces climate action must reckon with. Other contributors explore the limitations of carbon pricing, the prospects of recent corporate commitments to rein in emissions, and the nature of life on a polluted and overheated planet. Together they sketch an urgent vision for climate action—now.


Editors’ Note
Deborah Chasman & Joshua Cohen

Essays

Stanley Donwood

Bad Island

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Erica X Eisen

On life in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan—one of the most polluted cities in the world.

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Duncan Kelly

Can today’s crises inspire action at the scales required to think about planetary sustainability?

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Alexis Pauline Gumbs

If many marine mammals are on the verge of extinction, it is not for lack of environmental activism, but because we are entangled in a global financial system that it does not seem possible to transform.

Rhon Manigault Bryant Poisoning Tallevast
James Manigault-Bryant José Constantine Ruby Bagwyn

First, segregation blocked this Florida community from equal education and other public goods. Then the military–industrial complex sickened residents and destroyed their property.

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David McDermott Hughes

Waiting to ensure uninterrupted power for everyone as we transition away from fossil fuels will cost too much time—and too many lives.

half stokes
Leah C. Stokes Matto Mildenberger

Carbon pricing has dominated conversations around climate policy for decades, but it is ineffective. Only a bold approach that centers politics can meet the problem at its scale.

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Madison Condon

Huge investors like BlackRock are forcing corporations to take action on emissions. But what does their power mean for democracy?

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