Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition
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Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition

Edited by Peter Dauvergne

The second edition of this Handbook contains more than 30 new and original articles as well as six essential updates by leading scholars of global environmental politics. This landmark book maps the latest theoretical and empirical research in this energetic and growing field. Captured here are the pioneering and lively debates over concerns for the health of the planet and how they might best be addressed.
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Chapter 17: Governing Climate Change: The Challenge of Mitigating and Adapting in a Warming World

Tim Rayner and Andrew Jordan


Tim Rayner and Andrew Jordan1 In international climate politics, the world has moved from an era in which the dominant policy problem was how to reduce emissions (“mitigation”), to one where this concern has been joined by another of increasing urgency: how to adapt in the face of the growing impacts of climate change (“adaptation”). The shift in emphasis has accelerated since the failure, in late 2009, of the Copenhagen conference to produce a stronger international mitigation regime, and growing evidence that the chances of staying within 2˚C of warming (the widely assumed threshold of dangerous change) are rapidly diminishing. It has led to calls for new policy portfolios that do not simply mitigate to achieve 2˚C, but also facilitate adaptation to potentially greater levels of warming – such as 3 and even 4˚C.2 The development of policy on any problem requires choices to be made; choices which in turn constantly provoke governance dilemmas, which systems of governance have been established to handle.3 These choices and dilemmas are especially problematic in relation to a “wicked” problem such as climate change, where few self-evident or easily implemented “best” options exist. Among the key choices are, first and foremost, the question of how climate change should be framed and corresponding objectives set, in order for effective action to be galvanized. Second, at what level (or scale) of governance should policies for mitigation and adaptation be developed? Depending on the nature of “the problem,” a centrally set or more locally based...

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