Escaping the Climate Trap? Values, Technologies, and Politics

It is widely acknowledged that reducing emissions of greenhouse gases is almost impossible without radical changes in consumption patterns and the structure of production. This paper examines the interdependent roles of changing environmental values, changing technologies, and the politics of environmental policy, in creating sustainable societal change. Complementarities that emerge naturally in our framework may generate a “climate trap,” where society does not transit towards lifestyles and technologies that are more friendly to the environment. We discuss a variety of forces that make the climate trap more or less avoidable, including lobbying by firms, private politics, motivated scientists, and (endogenous) subsidies to green innovation.
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