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Working Group on Decarbonization


The “Decarbonization” Working Group is part of the “Task Force on Climate Governance”. It gathers researchers from various disciplines who are interested in studying climate mitigation, the different potential pathways towards decarbonizing societies and its drivers and hurdles.

The working group is currently launching an ESG Speaker’s Series and plans to grow its activities over time, organizing events at Earth System Governance (ESG) conferences or writing joint papers for journals.

Activities and events

Upcoming events

ESG Speaker’s Series “Disruption and Stability in the Pursuit of Decarbonization,”:

Steven Bernstein & Matthew J. Hoffmann (University of Toronto): 12 April, 2-3pm CET.


Background and aim

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero is necessary to limit the climate crisis. Climate science indicates that societies need to act now to reach the 1.5-degree Celsius goal from the Paris Agreement and this requires fast and significant climate mitigation action.  Therefore, it is imperative to implement a deep transformation to decarbonize our societies. Despite manifold climate pledges, current climate mitigation targets are not sufficient to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius goal, nor to reach zero-emission targets. Moreover, there are a variety of state and non-state actors who are key agents in the decarbonization process and, amongst them, some face stronger hurdles, further complicating the transition to a fully decarbonized Earth system.


Against this backdrop, the working group studies the processes of societal decarbonization through the different lenses of the Earth System Governance (ESG) research framework. This includes some initial questions posed by current members of the working group and these will be extended based on feedback by new members over time.

Adaptiveness and reflexivity

– (How) are state and non-state actors reflecting upon their own direct or indirect GHG emission performance?

– (How) do state and non-state actors reshape their goals, practices and values to achieve decarbonization – both concretely and abstractly?

Anticipation and imagination

–  Which decarbonization imaginaries are proposed by different state and non-state actors and constituencies?

Architecture and agency

–  How do the socio-institutional agents’ part of the Earth system governance engage with the transformation towards decarbonization?

– (How) does the current Earth system governance architecture shape the decarbonization pathways taken by socio-institutional agents?

Democracy and power

– To what extent do various conceptions of democracy promote the decarbonization transition?

– Who is exercising which kinds of power to promote or hinder decarbonization?

Justice and allocation

– To what extent are climate justice concerns integrated into decarbonization pathways?

Become a member

We welcome all scholars interested in studying climate mitigation and decarbonization. If you are interested in joining the working group, please fill out this form.

We are looking for a third coordinator from the Global South (preferably from the ESG network).


Feel free to contact the coordinators:

Chris Höhne, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany,

Valeria Zambianchi, University of Leuven, Belgium & Utrecht University, Netherlands,


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