Skip navigation
The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Responding to environmental breakdown

About the project

The total impact of human activity on the environment is overwhelmingly negative, affects all natural systems, from the climate to soil, and threatens the preconditions upon which societies can exist, let alone flourish. As breakdown accelerates, risk in this new era of environmental collapse is likely to have multiple dimensions, compounding and systemic, threatening ‘tipping points’ that could lead to catastrophe.

Risk of this kind is hard to communicate, has large uncertainties and so is difficult to develop responses to. As such, decision-makers across sectors, up and down the country, and across the world may not be prepared to effectively assess and manage the risks to societies and economies that the accelerating breakdown of the environment will create. Overall, societies must be prepared for disruption caused by past and future environmental change alongside bringing human activity within sustainable limits as quickly as possible, helping realise a more equitable, democratic and healthier future in the process.

At IPPR, we are launching a major research programme to understand the implications of environmental collapse for policy and politics and develop the narratives and policy needed to manage risk in this new era, protect societies from disruption caused by environmental breakdown, and enable future generations to flourish. Specifically, the project is aimed at a general policy and political audience, and will seek to understand:

  1. How social and economic systems have and are currently driving environmental change and breakdown, and how, in turn, this breakdown is putting our societies and economies at risk  
  2. What is required to ensure a minimum level of preparedness and resilience to environmental breakdown across social and economic systems as part of a shift toward an economic paradigm that is more democratic, equitable and brings human activity to within sustainable limits
  3. How politics can become robust to the effects of environmental collapse, including what is needed for politicians to act on these issues, effective political narratives, and dimensions of intergenerational and other justice considerations.

We will release an initial report in early 2019, followed by a launch conference. Check the IPPR events page for updates. For more information or to submit evidence, please contact Lesley Rankin - [email protected].