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Cutting the Gordian Knot: Adequacy, Realism and Equity

Despite the almost impossible complexity of the climate deadlock, it is possible to map its most profound contours. They range, unsurprisingly, outside the traditional domains of climate politics, across lands defined by post-Cold War geopolitics, the struggle for development, the challenges of sustainability. For all this, however, they define a tangle—a Gordian Knot—in which three principle strands may be clearly discerned: adequacy, realism, and equity. To help map the way forward, this paper proposes the concept of an “equity reference framework”—a framework that allows us to ask, before we prejudge what is and isn’t realistic, what would actually be fair. There will be no adequate way forward that does not involve a radical redefinition of realism.