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Anticipating Climate Futures in a 1.5 °C Era: the Link between Foresight and Governance

Vervoort, Joost, Aarti Gupta. 2018. Anticipating Climate Futures in a 1.5 °C Era: the Link between Foresight and Governance. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 31: 104-111. 

Abstract

The Paris Agreement’s aspirational 1.5 degree temperature target has given further impetus to efforts to imagine (and seek to govern) transformative and uncertain climate futures. This brings to the fore multiple challenges in the search for anticipatory governance and the role herein for climate foresight. Foresight entails processes to envision challenging futures and question limiting assumptions about what futures are possible, but these processes also impact upon present-day politics. While foresight-related activities are proliferating in sustainability research and planning, critical social science scrutiny of such processes remains minimal. Two key gaps in understanding are: (a) the link between foresight, planning and policy change; and (b) the very prospects of relying on foresight in the presentto steer largely unknowable futures. In addressing these gaps, we review the field of climate foresight research here, situating it within a broader interdisciplinary body of literature relating to anticipation and anticipatory governance. In doing so, we identify a conceptual lens through which to analyze the political implications of foresight processes, and apply it to the case of two ongoing foresight initiatives. We conclude with noting the urgent need for further research on the role of foresight within anticipatory climate governance in a post-Paris era.

The article is available here.

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