Translating scientific knowledge about climate change and accumulated carbon dioxide emissions into climate mitigation policies is challenging. Policy makers must face the scientific evidence for the long-term implications of their actions, but that evidence alone is unlikely to lead to successful negotiations without involvement of the political sciences, conclude two Commentary pieces in a special Focus published online by Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.
The increasing scientific attention on accumulated carbon emissions as an indicator for expected climate warming clarifies the scale and scope of climate change mitigation needed to achieve defined temperature targets. David J. Frame and colleagues write in a Commentary in Nature Geoscience that accumulated carbon emissions uncover historical responsibilities as well as the importance of future emissions from emerging economies. They concede that these insights complicate the political process for determining a globally equitable distribution of costs for cutting down emissions, but argue that these complications must be faced.
David G. Victor writes in a Commentary published in Nature Climate Change that more scientific evidence about the need to control carbon dioxide emissions will not eliminate the political barriers to action on climate change. In the realm of policy making, governments do not decide separately on tolerable warming levels and on who pays the cost of policy. It is imperative for scientists to better understand this practice, says Victor, if science is to influence real policy making.
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