Becoming a Proactive State to Respond to the Systematic Risks of Climate Change

1. Everyone is talking about climate change, it can no longer be ignored.

  • Climate change has given rise to numerous risk incidents, such as melting glaciers, intensifying heat, and increasingly bizarre weather episodes; but what is even more alarming is that the global society is facing the potential consequence of systems failure at each and every level. In the face of increasing global risks, the World Economic Forum has proposed that "fundamental reforms to market capitalism may be needed"; especially with countries worldwide facing major changes in technology, industry, population, the environment, society, climate change and health, which therefore calls on humanity to move towards a new model of development.


2. The United Nations' proposed solution: global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

  • The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the 'Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C' in 2018 ,1 which highlighted that if humanity wants to limit global warming to below 1.5°C, then global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40% to 60% from 2010 levels by 2030, and net-zero emissions must be achieved by the middle of the century. The IPCC report also points out that if we are serious about reaching this goal, then fossil fuels such as coal-fired power, would need to be reduced to less than 8% of total electricity generation, while renewable energy needs would need to see a substantial increase to 77.5%. However, such a carbon reduction scenario is based on including many socially-controversial technological options, such as geoengineering, carbon capture and storage and additional nuclear power plants.


3. WBGU's new practical direction: using 'proactive states' to accelerate the decarbonization of the global energy system by 2050.

  • The world-renowned German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) proposed a more concrete solution which would be able to avoid the aforementioned high-risk carbon reduction technologies while at the same time achieve rapid coal reduction – by encouraging a think through of how fundamental social transformation can be used to achieve the rapid decarbonization of the energy system. In order to carry out these new solutions, there would be a need for effective policy tools to guide innovation in a new direction so as to accelerate the diffusion of such innovations. At the same time, there is a need to establish an investment-friendly system and environment, which would promote the development of global infrastructure that would enable decarbonization to occur more rapidly and increase resource efficiency.


4. We need to become a 'proactive state' and provide greater opportunities for participation.

  • The pursuit of climate targets should be done in a way that is compatible with societal principles, and conducted based on ideals such as equality and broad-based participation. If the vision of decarbonization is to be fulfilled, this would require a new energy transition governance structure. We should therefore move towards being a proactive state with extended opportunities for participation, by incorporating the climate policy goals into both the constitution and law, expanding information disclosure and civil participation, mainstreaming climate policy in government policies and parliamentary politics, and establishing a representative system for future generations.



1 IPCC (2018). Global warming of 1.5°C.