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When optimization for governing human-environment tipping elements is neither sustainable nor safe
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5233-7703
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. The Australian National University, Australia.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9719-9826
Number of Authors: 42018 (English)In: Nature Communications, ISSN 2041-1723, E-ISSN 2041-1723, Vol. 9, article id 2354Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Optimizing economic welfare in environmental governance has been criticized for delivering short-term gains at the expense of long-term environmental degradation. Different from economic optimization, the concepts of sustainability and the more recent safe operating space have been used to derive policies in environmental governance. However, a formal comparison between these three policy paradigms is still missing, leaving policy makers uncertain which paradigm to apply. Here, we develop a better understanding of their interrelationships, using a stylized model of human-environment tipping elements. We find that no paradigm guarantees fulfilling requirements imposed by another paradigm and derive simple heuristics for the conditions under which these trade-offs occur. We show that the absence of such a master paradigm is of special relevance for governing real-world tipping systems such as climate, fisheries, and farming, which may reside in a parameter regime where economic optimization is neither sustainable nor safe.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 9, article id 2354
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-158258DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04738-zISI: 000435438000004PubMedID: 29907743OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-158258DiVA, id: diva2:1237598
Available from: 2018-08-09 Created: 2018-08-09 Last updated: 2018-12-20Bibliographically approved

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