Exploring Global Climate Policy Futures and Their Representation in Integrated Assessment Models

Jasmine Livingston, Thomas Hickmann*, Christoph Bertram, Elina Brutschin, Frank Biermann, Elmar Kriegler, Silvia Pianta, Keywan Riahi, Bas van Ruijven, Detlef van Vuuren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, paved the way for a new hybrid global climate governance architecture with both bottom-up and top-down elements. While governments can choose individual climate goals and actions, a global stocktake and a ratcheting-up mechanism have been put in place with the overall aim to ensure that collective efforts will prevent increasing adverse impacts of climate change. Integrated assessment models show that current combined climate commitments and policies of national governments fall short of keeping global warming to 1.5 °C or 2 °C above preindustrial levels. Although major greenhouse gas emitters, such as China, the European Union, India, the United States under the Biden administration, and several other countries, have made new pledges to take more ambitious climate action, it is highly uncertain where global climate policy is heading. Scenarios in line with long-term temperature targets typically assume a simplistic and hardly realistic level of harmonization of climate policies across countries. Against this backdrop, this article develops four archetypes for the further evolution of the global climate governance architecture and matches them with existing sets of scenarios developed by integrated assessment models. By these means, the article identifies knowledge gaps in the current scenario literature and discusses possible research avenues to explore the pre-conditions for successful coordination of national policies towards achieving the long-term target stipulated in the Paris Agreement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-185
Number of pages15
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2022


  • Paris Agreement
  • climate action
  • climate policy
  • global climate governance architecture
  • integrated assessment models
  • scenario analysis


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