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why Paris Climate Conference is failing — what to do

The major carbon-emitting countries have now made their pledges for a Paris Climate Protocol. But as Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, recently pointed out, the driving force behind the pledges is simply “the self-interest of every country” and their pledges are “not because they want to save the planet.” This is why they don’t add up — why we will fall short of the 2 degree target.

To explain why this is happening, and what could be done about it, a group of leading climate and cooperation experts take to the pages of Nature to challenge the approaches to climate negotiations, which led to more than 20 years of deadlock in international cooperation. The provocative piece should be essential homework reading for policy makers trying to salvage the Paris negotiations. The authors came to the SMC to lay out their case and discuss issues such as:

  • Can the self-interests of countries be re-directed toward saving the planet?
  • What does the science of cooperation teaches us about changing self-interests without a world government?
  • What would a truly cooperative treaty look like?
  • Who is behind these new ideas?
  • Why has the UN given up on genuinely ambitious pledges?

Roundup comments accompanied this briefing.



Prof. David J C MacKay FRS  is Regius professor of engineering at the University of Cambridge, UK. David MacKay served as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2009 to 2014.

Prof. Axel Ockenfels, professor of economics at the University of Cologne, Germany.

Steven Stoft is an economist in Berkeley, California, USA. His consulting work focuses on energy markets, for example, advising the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the design of capacity mechanisms.

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