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Towards a science of climate and energy choices


The linked problems of energy sustainability and climate change are among the most complex and daunting facing humanity at the start of the twenty-first century. This joint Nature Energy and Nature Climate Change Collection illustrates how understanding and addressing these problems will require an integrated science of coupled human and natural systems; including technological systems, but also extending well beyond the domain of engineering or even economics. It demonstrates the value of replacing the stylized assumptions about human behaviour that are common in policy analysis, with ones based on data-driven science. We draw from and engage articles in the Collection to identify key contributions to understanding non-technological factors connecting economic activity and greenhouse gas emissions, describe a multi-dimensional space of human action on climate and energy issues, and illustrate key themes, dimensions and contributions towards fundamental understanding and informed decision making.

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Figure 1: Annual global investment rates in selected energy systems, and global GHG emissions, 2007–2013.


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Contributions from B. K. S. were supported in part by the Research Councils UK's (RCUK) Energy Programme Grant EP/K011790/1 and the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF) Sapere Aude Grant 4182-00033B. Contributions by T. D. were supported in part by AgBioResearch of Michigan State University. Except as noted in the references, the views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not of the National Acadamies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, nor of the RCUK Energy Programme or the DFF.

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Correspondence to Benjamin K. Sovacool.

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Stern, P., Sovacool, B. & Dietz, T. Towards a science of climate and energy choices. Nature Clim Change 6, 547–555 (2016).

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