Three Decades of Climate Mitigation: Why Haven't We Bent the Global Emissions Curve?
Review article, 2021

Despite three decades of political efforts and a wealth of research on the causes and catastrophic impacts of climate change, global carbon dioxide emissions have continued to rise and are 60% higher today than they were in 1990. Exploring this rise through nine thematic lenses-covering issues of climate governance, the fossil fuel industry, geopolitics, economics, mitigation modeling, energy systems, inequity, lifestyles, and social imaginaries-draws out multifaceted reasons for our collective failure to bend the global emissions curve. However, a common thread that emerges across the reviewed literature is the central role of power, manifest in many forms, from a dogmatic political-economic hegemony and influential vested interests to narrow techno-economic mindsets and ideologies of control. Synthesizing the various impediments to mitigation reveals how delivering on the commitments enshrined in the Paris Agreement now requires an urgent and unprecedented transformation away from today's carbon- and energy-intensive development paradigm.

energy transitions

climate mitigation



societal transformations

knowledge traditions


Isak Stoddard

Uppsala University

Kevin Anderson

Uppsala University

University of Manchester

Stuart Capstick

College of Biomedical and Life Sciences

Wim Carton

Lund University

Joanna Depledge

Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance

Keri Facer

Uppsala University

University of Bristol

Clair Gough

University of Manchester

Frederic Hache

Green Finance Observatory

Claire Hoolohan

University of Manchester

College of Biomedical and Life Sciences

Martin Hultman

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society

Niclas Hällström

What Next?

Sivan Kartha

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

Sonja Klinsky

Arizona State University

Magdalena Kuchler

Uppsala University

Eva Lövbrand

Linköping University

Naghmeh Nasiritousi

Stockholm University

Swedish Institute of International Affairs

Peter Newell

University of Sussex

Glen P. Peters

Cicero Senter for klimaforskning

Youba Sokona

The South Centre

Andy Stirling

University of Sussex

Matthew Stilwell

Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development

Clive L. Spash

Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien

Mariama Williams

The South Centre

Annual Review of Environment and Resources

1543-5938 (ISSN) 1545-2050 (eISSN)

Vol. 46 653-689

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Economic History

Globalization Studies

Energy Systems



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