PerspectiveClimate Change

Political agency: The key to tackling climate change

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Science  04 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6265, pp. 1170-1171
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad0267

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This month, representatives from more than 190 nations are gathering in Paris to participate in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21). There is widespread demand for a universal and binding political agreement that will limit the global average temperature increase to less than 2°C above its preindustrial value. But an agreement by itself does not guarantee action and desirable outcomes, and current pledges are far from sufficient to limit warming to 2°C. Nor are new technologies and energy infrastructure a panacea. Meeting this ambitious target and adapting to the impacts and risks associated with a warmer world will require transformations of a scope, magnitude, speed, and penetration that are unprecedented in human history. Without an instruction manual, where do we begin?