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Working Paper | Three Perspectives: Climate, Sustainability and Finance

Thomas Heller

I was recently asked an original and provocative question by an interviewer in China. She wanted me to explain, looking back from the world which had emerged in 2050, what had been the key factors that had permitted the successful management of climate risk achieved across the first half of the 21st century. After reflection, I discovered that my answers surprised even me, principally because they were simply outside the accepted concepts, language and debate about climate change risks as they had emerged  between 1992 and 2020. Perhaps this should not be so surprising looking ahead, in as much as scholars often recognize retrospectively that what characterized fundamental  transitions of economy, politics and society was a full blown shift in the terms in which problems, especially those most challenging from an embedded perspective, become  tractable only when the initial framework through which they are organized is shed in the dynamics of the passage that is already in play. Or, at least, this is what I want to argue is how we should approach climate change now.