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Political strategies for climate and environmental solutions

Abstract

Many of the barriers to progress in addressing environmental problems, such as climate change, are political. We argue that politics should not be seen only as a constraint but be recognized as a target of intervention to advance environmental solutions. We use the example of climate change to illustrate how insight into politics can help policymakers craft strategies to address three gaps: the ambition gap, the implementation gap and the international action gap. Focusing on politically effective choices that are feasible today and have the potential to ease political barriers to future policy action can broaden the solution space.

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Fig. 1: Climate policy ambition of countries falls short of action needed to avoid dangerous climate change.
Fig. 2: Spectrum of opposition to climate policy instruments.
Fig. 3: Cost of onshore wind power and solar PV over time, with key policy developments overlaid.

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Acknowledgements

We thank H. Jacoby, D.G. Victor and members of the Energy and Environment Policy Lab at UC Berkeley for valuable feedback. J.M. acknowledges funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project Accession Number 1020688.

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J.M. conceived the focus of this Review. J.M. and V.J.K. reviewed the literature. J.M. and V.J.K. synthesized the key messages and wrote the paper. J.M. and V.J.K. conceived the figures, V.J.K. created them.

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Correspondence to Jonas Meckling.

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Meckling, J., Karplus, V.J. Political strategies for climate and environmental solutions. Nat Sustain 6, 742–751 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-023-01109-5

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