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Energy, Climate and Society

The energy sector is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. If countries are going to keep their pledges to curb warming to 1.5–2 °C above preindustrial levels, society will have to transform how it fuels its activity.

Many technical fixes for this problem have been explored, but these studies often rely on stylized assumptions about the ways individuals, communities, countries and companies behave. An integrated approach that engages the social sciences alongside the physical and natural sciences and engineering will be necessary if society is to clean up energy production, cut consumption and ensure that humans interact with energy systems in a sustainable way.

This joint Nature Energy and Nature Climate Change Collection showcases research that provides a fuller understanding of society’s response to the challenges of transitioning to a low-carbon energy regime. 

Image credit: Dirk Meister/Moment/Getty.

Contents

In this issue, Nature Energy takes a closer look at some of the ways in which the social sciences are addressing problems in energy and climate change.

Editorial | | Nature Energy

This Perspective introduces a special Collection titled Energy, Climate and Society—jointly produced by Nature Energy and Nature Climate Change—that focuseson the social science insights into the linked problems of energy sustainability and climate change.

Perspective | | Nature Climate Change

Current approaches to energy systems invoke individual rational consumers, despite the fact that their decision-making cannot be simplified so readily. This Perspective explores the concept of consumers as part of a wider transition, offering a typology of the users who are shaping and enacting system change.

Perspective | | Nature Energy

When making decisions about energy, consumers and policymakers typically overlook moral issues, which can have profound societal consequences. This Perspective explores how ideas from justice and ethics can provide a framework to reconsider energy problems and better inform decision-making processes.

Perspective | | Nature Energy

Deep international cooperation will be needed to tackle climate change. This Perspective looks at how decentralized policy coordination involving partial efforts to build confidence and reduce emissions could foster such cooperation.

Perspective | | Nature Climate Change