Breaking the Doom Loop- Urgent Action Needed to Address Climate Change

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Climate adaptation Inadequate actions to address climate change doom loop

The effects of climate change could become so overwhelming that efforts are focused on mitigating the impacts instead of addressing its root cause – reducing GHG emissions.

When this happens, climate change effects continue to make weather events like storms, droughts, heatwaves, and heavy rains more frequent and severe, leading to more losses and damage to the economy and society. In contrast, efforts to address the climate crisis continue to fail.

The cost of climate change will erode developing countries’ ability to deliver a more prosperous and sustainable condition. It will also make it difficult for them to raise funds to reach their climate action pledges – hence not allowing them to slash their emissions while adding to the problem of climate change crisis.

Authors of the jointly published report by two British think tanks, Chatham House and IPPR, call this a doom loop and warns that the earth could get into one if we fail to curb global emissions.

“A doom loop is a consequence of the crisis, and the failure to address it draws focus and resources from tackling its causes, leading to higher temperatures and ecological loss, which create more severe consequences, diverting even more attention and resources, and so on”.

According to the report, this dynamic is also seen in a growing debate about whether the 1.5°C is already a lost cause and inevitable. However, those who say that 1.5°C have already decided that societal and economic changes are not quick enough or impossible or refuse to see the necessary changes. But the UN insists that achieving this warming limit target is still possible with a rapid and systemic transformation.

Breaching this temperature threshold is dangerous, and its consequences are so severe that governments and businesses should aim for transformations that will achieve the Paris Agreement target. Unfortunately, what is happening is that climate policy still focuses on delivering incremental sector-by-sector change influenced by those in power or who have vested interests, which has yet to prove enough. Instead, a systems-wide and transformation shift in policy, civil society (demand management), and businesses are needed, including making the green transition more resilient.

Report author Laurie Laybourn, an associate fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank warns that climate change could force more refugees to escape increasingly unliveable homelands.

The UN and Red Cross October 2022 report says that extreme heat by 2100 will make some parts of Asia and Africa uninhabitable for up to 600 million people.

But even if humanity begins to enter the “doom loop”, humanity can still escape it because of our ability to control or change how we respond to a destabilising crisis.

Laybourn, an associate fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank says, “The psychological element of this is the fundamental quantity,” referring to how individuals dramatically pointing to how individuals dramatically relearned everyday habits during the covid-19 pandemic over a short period of time that saved many lives (Sands, 2023).

“Throughout history, in moments of destabilisation — you can see the doom dynamic. You can also see a virtuous circle as well, where certain events, shocks, create positive social movements,” he said. “It can happen in astonishingly short periods of time” (Sands, 2023).

The report proposes responses across the following areas:

Politics: Better anticipating and responding to narratives that favour delaying or blocking transformational change as temperatures approach 1.5°C as part of a more exhaustive process of developing environmental narratives befitting the deepening challenges of the crisis.

Policy: Decisively shifting beyond an incrementalist policymaking mindset and placing policies that can realise a system-wide transformation at the heart of advocacy.

Analysis: Improving policy-relevant analyses and accessible communication of the complex risks resulting from the deepening climate and ecological crisis.

Read the full report by clicking the link in the “Source” section below.


1.5°C – dead or alive? The risks to transformational change from reaching and breaching the Paris Agreement goal. (2023, February 16). IPPR. Retrieved from

Sands, L. (2023 February 16). Beware a climate ‘doom loop’, where a crisis is harder to solve, report says. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

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