Global warming (more accurately: global heating) is a global challenge of unprecedented magnitude and extraordinary political complexity. As matters stand, the emissions-pledge pathway negotiated in the Paris Agreement has a probability of more than 90 percent to exceed 2°C, and only a likely chance of remaining below 3°C this century. The issue is no longer the prevention of catastrophe, but its postponement. In fact, time is running out, and nature neither negotiates nor compromises.
What will happen to the international order when the climate shifts to 3°C or even warmer? Are current political institutions, mechanisms and tools adequate to deal with the consequences of Global Heating? Can or will states act before problems become too big to manage? Is technocratic governance reaching the limits of its capacity? Can it deal proactively with the quadruple shocks of Global Heating, Conflict, Migration and accelerating Automation as well as Artificial Intelligence that are altering the nature work?
It is a significant risk that, against the backdrop of domestic and international political strife – and with policy-makers already operating in uncharted territory as regards the consequences of automation and artificial intelligence – the eruption of a climate, or any other, disaster will overwhelm existing political systems. What will this mean for the international order?