The warming of the climate system is unprecedented and it challenges humanity to respond like no problem before it. Climate change interferes with all areas of life on earth from the melting ice in the arctic impacting sensitive ecosystems to the increased incidences of flooding and heat waves in cities. The challenge is ‘wicked’ and has even been coined ‘super-wicked’ (Levin, Cashore, Bernstein, & Auld, 2012), characterized by i) lack of time to act; ii) those seeking to end the problem is also causing it; iii) lack of central effective authority; and iv) both policies and the public discount the future irrationally, by not acting on evidence of significant risks.
The social and environmental complexity of the problem is enormous, and the scientific understanding of the problem is constantly evolving, making climate change policy a dynamic problem. Rising to the challenge involves behaviour change among citizens, companies, public authorities etc. With all the difficulties that this poses to different target groups: attempts at regulation are characterized by chronic policy failure and difficulties to define the problem are evident across stakeholders. The responsibility for the climate challenge does not reside with any one organization, which makes this a problem that is cross governance, nationally and internationally.
Climate change mitigation is about implementing policies that reduce GHG emissions and/or increase sinks, and about changing practices by citizens and businesses. To facilitate this, solid data on emissions and their impact on the environment are needed as well as knowledge on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different policy instruments, target group behaviour and policy integration across sectors and between different administrative levels.
The SGA for Sustainable Energy, Climate and Society focuses on these research areas within climate mitigation: