Scientists are clear that urgent action is needed on climate change, and world leaders agree. Yet climate issues barely trouble domestic politics. Too Hot to Handle? explores a central dilemma of the climate crisis: science demands urgency; politics turns the other cheek. Is it possible to hope for a democratic solution to climate change?
Based on interviews with leading politicians and activists, and the author's twenty years on the frontline of climate politics, Too Hot to Handle? explores why climate is such a challenge for political systems, even when policy solutions exist. It argues that more democracy, not less, is needed to tackle the climate crisis, and suggests practical ways forward.
- Introduction: Democracy on hold?
- A minute to midnight: Governing the planet
- The energy elephant
- Dual realities: Living with the climate crisis
- 20 years of climate action, but emissions are still rising
- More, and better, democracy
- A strategy for the climate emergency
- The personal is political: How to be a good climate citizen
Rebecca Willis is a Professor in Practice at Lancaster University. She is an Expert Lead for Climate Assembly UK and was a respondent in the Channel Four Leaders’ Debate on Climate in November 2019. Media appearances include BBC Radio Four's Today Programme, the One O’Clock News, Radio 5 Live, The Guardian, New Scientist and more.
"Too Hot to Handle [...] deals with a critical issue not just at the national level, but locally too. How do we get broad democratic support for real climate action? [...] If you're at all involved in those projects, as an activist or from the government side, you might find this book helpful."
– The Earthbound Report
"If politicians know the seriousness of the climate crisis, why don't they act? This highly readable book explains."
– Shaun Spiers, Green Alliance
"The political process that is central to our democracy is faltering just as we need it most to lead on the climate crisis. Rebecca Willis articulates the problem elegantly and outlines options with great insight."
– Juliet Davenport, Good Energy
"Understanding the messy relationship between science and politics is key to delivering on the Paris climate commitments. In this book Rebecca Willis helps navigate a progressive course through these stormy waters."
– Kevin Anderson, Universities of Manchester (UK) and Uppsala (Sweden)
"A wonderful insight into the evolution of democracy that we need in order to deal with the climate crisis – and, even better, says what any of us can do to help bring that change about."
– Mike Berners-Lee, Lancaster University and author of There is No Planet B
"Asks the most important question in today's Climate Emergency: how can we manage the most comprehensive transition in the history of humankind while putting citizens at the heart of it? The answer is to ramp up the opportunities for more democratic engagement at every level."
– Jonathan Porrit, Forum for the Future
"Politics and business as usual has failed us on climate – that's why I joined Extinction Rebellion. Rebecca Willis argues convincingly that we will find a way through the climate and ecological crisis by renewing democracy, not ignoring it."
– Farhana Yamin, environmental lawyer