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  • The USA and the EU proposed a ‘Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum (GASSA)’ as the first step towards a carbon club for clean steel in 2021. Yet, visions about the core elements of GASSA, a common standard for green steel and a tariff on ‘dirty’ steel, remain far apart. This comment discusses the international developments, domestic priorities, and structural conditions that enable and constrain the negotiations on GASSA. Ultimately, we argue that if the USA and the EU at least conclude an agreement with a definition for green steel and provide an opportunity for including further partners, this initiative might become a valuable endeavor for industrial decarbonization.

    • Charlotte Unger
    • Rainer Quitzow
    CommentOpen Access
  • I am concerned by climate scientists becoming climate activists, because scholars should not have a priori interests in the outcome of their studies. Likewise, I am worried about activists who pretend to be scientists, as this can be a misleading form of instrumentalization.

    • Ulf Büntgen
    CommentOpen Access
  • This article considers the possibilities and limits of reimagining international development policy by taking the values, practices, and worldviews of Indigenous communities as its starting point. Drawing on ethnographic research in Guatemala, we contrast the development industry’s overwhelming focus on economic growth as the gold standard of well-being with the perspective of Maya-Achí groups, who insist that growth and modernization must not come at the expense of the ecology, food sovereignty, or Indigenous ways of life connected to the land. We argue that the Maya-Achi organizations with whom we collaborate offer a philosophy and practice better attuned to the urgency of the climate crisis than that of the dominant model of development. To bring the international development agenda in line with local climate action, we propose reconceiving Development as Buen Vivir—an Indigenous philosophy of good living. To do so, we propose three lines of action: (1) Increasing Funding for Indigenous-led climate action; (2) Re-conceptualizing development practices to align with Buen Vivir, and (3) Transforming social and economic policies.

    • Michael Bakal
    • Nathan Einbinder
    CommentOpen Access
  • As the climate crisis deepens and the impacts are felt more often and more acutely worldwide, scientific, engineering, and policy communities need more tools and opportunities to make a difference in tackling climate challenges. The Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) has recently published a technical research roadmap, Engineering Biology for Climate & Sustainability, that describes and details short-, medium-, and long-term milestones for engineering biology tool and technology advancements that can be applied to mitigate, prevent, and adapt to climate change. These ambitious technical achievements can only be realized in the context of complementary research, policy, and investment and in combination with efforts from many other disciplines and approaches. Herein we illustrate the opportunities, as described by the roadmap, in engineering biology research and development to impact climate change and long-term environmental sustainability, and why and how engineering biology and subsequent biotechnologies should be among the most prominent of approaches to overcoming the climate crisis.

    • Emily R. Aurand
    • Tae Seok Moon
    • Michael Köpke
    CommentOpen Access
  • Following Tosun’s distinction between international, national, and subnational scales of intervention, this commentary presents the ABCs of governmental climate action challenges in Latin America. In relation to international climate action, Latin American organizations present numerous and diverse positions in international fora. This heterogeneity of positions affects the region’s bargaining power. At the national level, centralism, dominant, hierarchical political cultures, and weak federal systems have limited collaboration across government sectors and offices as well as citizen participation. Furthermore, localized climate action is constrained by political centralization together with administrative, technical, and financial limitations of local and regional governments. Altogether these elements represent the ABCs of challenges for climate action in Latin America. This perspective piece remarks a gap in the literature, highlighting the ways that publications regularly ignore a comparative and regional outlook. Accordingly, this text recommends that Latin American social researchers move beyond single case studies to carry out cross-national comparisons.

    • Israel Solorio
    CommentOpen Access
  • This editorial examines the intricate landscape of local climate action in Latin America. It explores the interplay between local initiatives, global agendas, and the potential for innovative and anti-systemic approaches. The paper recognizes the constraints faced by local actors, including limited capacity and the complexities of action, highlighting their differences and complementarity. Furthermore, this editorial underscore the role of local climate actions in challenging the dominant neoliberal global order, particularly through grassroots efforts prioritizing sustainability and equity. These initiatives offer alternative socioeconomic models and reframe issues beyond climate change, addressing broader challenges like inequality and resource depletion. In navigating these complexities, the editorial emphasizes the need to combine both localization and local climate actions, demanding inventive methods for progress measurement and support. It sets the stage for a topical collection that dissects local climate action in Latin America and its critical role within the global climate change agenda, and national policies.

    • Paul Cisneros
    • Israel Solorio
    • Micaela Trimble
    EditorialOpen Access
  • Recently adopted UN high seas Agreement elaborates an overarching legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of the areas beyond national jurisdiction. A remarkable advancement of this Agreement is a clear recognition of the need to address the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems and biodiversity. This comment presents a cautiously optimistic view that the new legal instrument may pave the foundation for global and regional climate action for protecting marine biodiversity in a changing climate. Climate action can be integrated into area-based measures for the conservation of marine ecosystems, including the establishment of high seas marine protected areas. The Agreement also created a legal obligation to consider climate change in the process of environmental impact assessment of activities on the high seas. Therefore, this Agreement is a unique addition and reform to the international law of the sea. However, the success of the Agreement will largely depend on the widespread ratification of states and effective implementation at the regional level.

    • Md Saiful Karim
    • William W. L. Cheung
    CommentOpen Access
  • The first ever Global Stocktake is scheduled to conclude during COP28 and aims to assess progress on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and the means of implementation. However, the Global Stocktake runs the risk of overestimating progress by overlooking the symbolic dimensions of climate change adaptation policy.

    • Robbert Biesbroek
    • Alexandra Lesnikowski
    CommentOpen Access
  • This comment piece seeks to remind readers of the urgency and importance of adaptation to climate change in the European Union, note significant recent policy developments, and highlight some of the opportunities that one particular aspect of EU policy, the new Mission on Adaptation, affords communities and policy makers to identify and develop more transformative actions. It offers initial suggestions for how social scientists might engage with these opportunities between now and 2030, but also stresses the need to consider them realistically in the context of the contemporary EU political landscape.

    • Tim Rayner
    CommentOpen Access
  • This comment links the radicalisation of climate justice movements in the Global North across time and space to the long-term environmental justice movements in post-colonial and settler-colonial geographies. I argue that the measures adopted by climate activists mirror the nature of resistance offered by activists against colonialism and its historic and continuing impact on local environments. I present the women-led Chipko Movement in the Himalayas in the 1970s as an example.

    • Neelakshi Joshi
    CommentOpen Access
  • To disrupt ongoing colonialist, racist narratives of Oceania as a source of cheap labour in which climate change is increasingly interwoven, it is necessary to firmly align Oceania workers’ rights with climate justice. Oceania workers’ crucial role in Australia’s food security is minimised when temporary labour mobility opportunities are framed as a ‘solution’ to Oceania’s complex climate change challenges. Furthermore, climate justice demands, at a minimum, greater attention to structural reform of temporary labour programs to eliminate exploitation of migrant workers. Since for many Oceania workers in Australian industries, economic benefits are accrued at significant social cost, current temporary labour mobility regimes cannot, without significant improvement, produce additional benefits needed to substantively redress climate change harm. Engaging the Tuvaluan concept of fale pili, meaning to care for your neighbour as if they were family, we consider how this concept can facilitate greater support for workers’ rights and for climate justice.

    • Taukiei Kitara
    • Carol Farbotko
    CommentOpen Access
  • With each IPCC report, the science basis around climate change increases extensively in terms of scope, depth, and complexity. In converting this knowledge into societal climate action, research organisations face the challenge of reforming the ways they structure themselves, generate solutions, and communicate scientific findings to stakeholders. Here we present a mission-driven approach to guide those efforts.

    • Daniel Adshead
    • Haluk Akay
    • Francesco Fuso Nerini
    CommentOpen Access
  • The EU’s Farm to Fork strategy (F2F) marks the first time that the EU addresses food sustainability covering both production and consumption (ref. 1, p. 586). The flagship initiative under the F2F strategy is an entirely novel Framework for a Sustainable Food System (FSFS). The FSFS is being developed at a time where the war on Ukraine has resurfaced the debate on food security, in particular that the initiatives under the F2F will lead to a decrease in EU food production and export (ref. 2, p. 15) and increased world food insecurity (ref. 3, p. 11). On the other hand, Röös et al. (p. 14)4, Pörtner et al. (p. 470)5 and Schiavo et al. (p. 40)6 argue that food insecurity will rather be a consequence of an unsustainable food system that threatens long-term food production. They state that a shift to agroecological practices, as promoted in the F2F strategy, can provide food security if in conjunction with demand-side dietary change, also promoted in the F2F strategy. It is clear that EU citizens will be important in order to demonstrate public support for the F2F strategy in general, and for the FSFS in particular. However, the abstract nature of the new Framework for a Sustainable Food System, the FSFS, may pose difficulties for citizens to exert political pressure on the next European Commission, on Member State governments and on the European Parliament. To make the FSFS more tangible as to what it could contain, I will outline three concrete policy proposals that the new law could include: (1) foster enabling food environments; (2) introduce a new incentives regime for food producers; (3) recognise animal welfare in the definition of a sustainable food system.

    • Camilla Björkbom
    CommentOpen Access
  • Climate change adaptation is increasingly being addressed by public, private, and hybrid governance institutions across global, regional, national, sub-national, and local scales. Strengthening emerging forms of trans-scalar adaptation action is critical for addressing urgent climate risks. However, critics point to growing climate injustices and public legitimacy perceptions of the emerging forms of trans-scalar adaptation governance remain in question. As scholars of legitimacy repeatedly tell us, legitimacy is crucial for effectively addressing policy problems. Adaptation governance will only work well when groups affected by climate change, as well as state and non-state actors, have confidence in global governance institutions and so feel it is worthwhile engaging with them, taking notice, discussing, participating, and accepting the norms and rules they promote. This commentary argues that we need more research on legitimacy in trans-scalar adaptation governance. Despite the importance of legitimacy for governing adaptation effectively, assessments of sociological legitimacy—i.e., legitimacy in the eyes of different stakeholders—are scant. Existing contributions on the issue of sociological legitimacy typically focus on climate governance institutions in general or in the area of mitigation, but not in the area of adaptation. The social science research community could significantly improve data and research on legitimacy in adaptation governance, in particular by investigating how climate justice may generate legitimacy perceptions in adaptation governance. In turn, this knowledge can be used to assist policymakers in enhancing legitimacy in trans-scalar adaptation governance.

    • Lisa Dellmuth
    • Maria-Therese Gustafsson
    CommentOpen Access