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2019-01-28 | Peer Reviewed

Policy design for the Anthropocene

Sterner, Thomas, Wolfgang Habla, Carolyn Fischer, Olof Johansson-Stenman, Gernot Wagner, Francisco Alpízar, Carlos Chávez Rebolledo, Jessica Coria, Sverker Jagers, Gunnar Köhlin, Åsa Löfgren, Edward B. Barbier, Ian Bateman, Inge van den Bijgaart, Ann-Sofie Crépin, Ottomar Edenhofter, John Hassler, Anderas Lange, Stephen Polasky, Johan Rockström, Henrik G. Smith, Will Steffen, James E. Wilen, Christian Azar, Donna Carless, Gustav Engström, Håkan Pleijel and Amanda Robinson. 2019. “Policy design for the Anthropocene.” Nature Sustainability 2: 14-21.
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Today, more than ever, ‘Spaceship Earth’ is an apt metaphor as we chart the boundaries for a safe planet. Social scientists both ​analyse why society courts disaster by approaching or even overstepping these boundaries and try to design suitable policies to avoid these perils. Because the threats of transgressing planetary boundaries are global, long-run, uncertain and intercon-nected, they must be analysed together to avoid conflicts and take advantage of synergies. To obtain policies that are effective at both international and local levels requires careful analysis of the underlying mechanisms across scientific disciplines and approaches, and must take politics into account. In this Perspective, we examine the complexities of designing policies that can keep Earth within the biophysical limits favourable to human life.