Associate Professor Peter Christoff 

Melbourne University



In this paper, I consider the longer term implications of climate change for the welfare state. Last year’s UN climate negotiations concluded with the Paris Agreement, which established important goals for dealing with global warming while recognizing that existing national mitigation commitments still fall well short of its aims.

Considerable hope has been expressed in investment and technological innovation overcoming this gap and offering an escape route from the emerging climate crisis. This paper first argues that there are significant barriers and limitations to such efforts being undertaken in time. The prospect of failure is strengthened by separate, complex and often poorly recognized challenges currently faced by the welfare state. These compounding problems are examined here, as are possible solutions.

In response to these observations the paper proposes that, irrespective of short and medium term success or failure in confronting global warming, the state itself will be reordered by climate change’s various demands and that a new state form – the climate state - will arise. This state form is described and examined in the paper’s concluding section.

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