John Lanchester in the New York Times:
Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has collectively faced. That challenge is, to put it mildly, practical; but it also poses a problem to the imagination. Our politics, our societies, are arranged around individual and group interests. These interests have to do with class, or ethnicity, or gender, or economics — make your own list. By asserting these interests, we call out to each other so that as a collective we see and hear one another. From that beginning, we construct the three overlapping, interacting R’s of recognition, representation and rights.
The problem with climate change, as an existential challenge to humanity, is that the interest-based model of society and politics doesn’t work. Most of the people in whose interest we are demanding action aren’t here. They haven’t been born yet. And because the areas first and most affected by climate change are the poorest regions of earth, we are talking about the least seen, least represented group on our planet. We have to imagine these people into being, and then grant them rights, and then take unprecedented, society-wide action on that basis.