The historical failure to sufficiently tackle the climate and ecological crisis could create consequences that challenge the ability of societies to tackle the root causes of this crisis.

This is a doom loop: the consequences of the crisis and the failure to address it draw focus and resources from tackling its causes. We describe this as a ‘strategic risk’ to our collective ability to realise a transformation of societies that ultimately avoids catastrophic climate and ecological change.

This dangerous dynamic extends to how prospects for tackling the climate and ecological crisis are framed. We explore a key example: the growing debate over whether it is now inevitable that global heating will breach the internationally agreed goal of 1.5°C.

A systematic effort is needed to tackle threats and grasp opportunities for rapid environmental action thrown up by the deepening consequences of the crisis: to make the green transition itself more resilient. Otherwise, the world could head further into a spiral of accelerating environmental shocks and counterproductive, defensive reactions.