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WIREs Clim Change
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Risk? Crisis? Emergency? Implications of the new climate emergency framing for governance and policy

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Abstract The term “climate emergency” represents a new phase in climate change framing that many hope will invigorate more climate action. Yet there has been relatively little discussion of how the new emergency framing might shape broader governance and policy. In this advanced review, we critically review and synthesize existing literature on crisis and emergency to inform our understanding of how this new shift might affect governance and policy. Specifically, we explore the literature on crisis governance and policy to argue that there is no simple answer to whether the “climate emergency” framing will be supportive of climate governance and policy; rather, more work needs to be done to understand how different political actors respond according to their perceptions, interests and values. To assist this endeavor, we develop a typology of four policy pathways, ranging from “no emergency,” to “no emergency, but recognize risk,” “emergency as a threat” and “emergency as an opportunity.” We highlight the need to consider the effects of multiple and overlapping emergency frames, using the example of the intersection of climate change and COVID‐19. Finally, we suggest new interdisciplinary research directions for critically analyzing and refining this new phase of climate change framing. This article is categorized under: Policy and Governance > Governing Climate Change in Communities, Cities, and Regions Policy and Governance > Multilevel and Transnational Climate Change Governance
Social media meme framing global crises in health, economy and climate as interconnected. Source: Facebook, April 5, 2020
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“Framing climate emergencies and policy responses in social–ecological systems” (based on Boin et al. (2009, p. 84)—crisis pathways, McConnell (2019) and Morrison et al. (2020a)—public policy concepts, and Hughes et al. (2019)—social–ecological systems theory)
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Policy and Governance > Multilevel and Transnational Climate Change Governance
Policy and Governance > Governing Climate Change in Communities, Cities, and Regions

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