How worldviews will shape the future of equitable climate action

This article is sponsored by Deloitte.

The science is clear that the climate crisis is real and caused by humans, but many continue to debate about how to best respond to it . Even among those committed to taking action, there are a wide range of divergent belief systems — or worldviews — that shape and color the way people approach the issues.

Many people aren’t rational actors — they don’t access all available information, carefully and dispassionately weigh the facts and arrive at a clear course of action. More often, people start from an existing worldview and gravitate toward information and solutions that align with that overarching perspective.

In the development of Deloitte’s recent report Act Now: Future Scenarios and the Case for Equitable Climate Action, the Monitor Institute by Deloitte interviewed a diverse group of more than 100 public, private and social sector leaders from across the globe to explore their perspectives on the future of climate action and its interrelation with equity. Drawing on the insights from these interviews and a deep scan of existing research, the report aims to help leaders across sectors understand the range of divergent futures that could transpire over the next decade and consider how they can take more robust and equitable climate action today.

The work also identified a clear set of predominant worldviews about climate action and climate equity:

Deloitte Worldviews Table

These kinds of worldviews are particularly useful as prisms to help us gain perspective on the way climate change is viewed today and to understand people’s attitudes and actions over the course of the next decade. Each worldview sees climate change and the subsequent implications for equity through a different lens. A "Techno-optimist," for example, might want to focus on funding moonshot technologies and innovation, while someone with a "Green Mobilization" worldview would prefer to support grassroots community organizing and coalition building.

It’s important to note that these worldviews are not mutually exclusive. Many people may hold a combination of several views simultaneously. The set of worldviews aren’t exhaustive of all belief systems that exist and may not be equally "correct” based on the facts, but they each appear to be held in earnest by leaders across a variety of organizations.

It’s also worth noting that the list includes several worldviews — Climate Minimizers, Climate Doomists and Climate Denialists — that, based on our research and conversations, are unproductive or not anchored in an accurate understanding of the science and realities of the climate crisis. They are, however, perspectives that sizable groups of people have gravitated toward. Rather than ignoring them, it’s important to recognize that you will likely interact with these points of view in your work.

Deloitte worldviews illustration

While these worldviews may not be a perfect or complete list of all belief systems that exist, they can serve as a valuable starting point. By understanding the different perspectives present within your team, organization or network of partners, leaders can gain a better sense of how to approach, discuss, and begin to act on climate change and climate equity.

Getting clear about 'certainties' and 'uncertainties'

Regardless of what worldview you take, it is also important to understand that there are a set of critical "truths" — or baseline assumptions — that all organizations will need to begin to reckon with in order to make smart choices in the midst of great uncertainty.

Our research identifies a set

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