Power in a Warming World

From Earth System Governance

Power in a Warming World

The New Global Politics of Climate Change and the Remaking of Environmental Inequality

By David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts and Mizan R. Khan

An examination of shifting global power dynamics in climate change politics, and how this affects our ability to achieve equitable and sustainable climate outcomes.





An examination of shifting global power dynamics in climate change politics, and how this affects our ability to achieve equitable and sustainable climate outcomes.

After nearly a quarter century of international negotiations on climate change, we stand at a crossroads. A new set of agreements is likely to fail to prevent the global climate's destabilization. Islands and coastlines face inundation, and widespread drought, flooding, and famine are expected to worsen in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. How did we arrive at an entirely inequitable and scientifically inadequate international response to climate change?

In Power in a Warming World, David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts, and Mizan Khan, bring decades of combined experience as negotiators, researchers, and activists to bear on this urgent question. Combining rich empirical description with a political economic view of power relations, they document the struggles of states and social groups most vulnerable to a changing climate and describe the emergence of new political coalitions that take climate politics beyond a simple North-South divide. They offer six future scenarios in which power relations continue to shift as the world warms. A focus on incremental market-based reform, they argue, has proven insufficient for challenging the enduring power of fossil fuel interests, and will continue to be inadequate without a bolder, more inclusive and aggressive response.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262029612 342 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 3 figures


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262527941 342 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 3 figures


  • We've long since won the argument about climate change; we've just lost the fight. And that's because it's not about data, it's—as these authors powerfully document—about power. It's held by the fossil fuel industry, and it has to be taken by the rest of us; all who read this volume will find themselves more empowered in that debate.

    Bill McKibben

    author of Deep Economy

  • Power in a Warming World is provocative in the best sense of the word—prompting us to think through alternative fates as the world's governments and social movements contend over responses to rising threats from climate change. A just outcome for all is possible, if not likely.

    Theda Skocpol

    Director, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University, and Director, Scholars Strategy Network

  • From analyzing the intricate interstate politics of the long series of UN conferences on climate change to highlighting the efforts of specific transnationally organized movements of those, like waste pickers and indigenous peoples, who are trying to change the current climate regime, Power in a Warming World provides an essential panorama for analysts and activists trying to better understand why climate justice is so hard to achieve and where points of positive leverage might lie.

    Peter Evans

    Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley; and Senior Research Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University