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At its core, the climate crisis is a crisis of politics and justice

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PLOS Climate Politics & Justice Section Editor Paul G. Harris is the Chair Professor of Global and Environmental Studies at the Education University of Hong Kong. His most recent book is Pathologies of Climate Governance: International Relations, National Politics and Human Nature (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

It is no longer controversial to declare that the world is in the midst of a worsening climate crisis. Indeed, we have reached the point where the United Nations Secretary General has been left pleading with world leaders to recognize that there is a climate emergency and to act accordingly, a plea that has been repeated by many officials, environmentalists, young people and even scientists.

The COP26 conference in Glasgow is a showcase for action on climate change. It demonstrates the increasingly overwhelming conviction that humanity needs to move very rapidly to address the climate crisis. But Glasgow also reveals the most persistent obstacles to action on climate change: politics and injustice.

This worsening climate crisis – this climate emergency – is not a crisis of atmospheric science, technology or financial resources. If the will were to exist, it would be possible to reduce climate-changing pollution rapidly, affordably and deeply, and to take action that […]

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