Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 557-571

First online:

How far are biodiversity loss and climate change similar as policy issues?

  • Edwin ZaccaiAffiliated withInstitute for Environmental Management and Land-Use Planning, Université Libre de Bruxelles Email author 
  • , William M. AdamsAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Cambridge

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Climate change and biodiversity loss have a central position in policy debate about global environmental change; however, of the two, climate change has a higher profile. This paper explores the similarities and difference between the two issues. Climate change is better defined and better understood as a policy issue, it is underpinned by a strong scientific consensus and practical units of measurement (CO2 and financial impacts), and mitigation involves a key economic sector in energy. Biodiversity loss is less easily understood, more diffuse and less tangible, and policy responses do not engage major economic sectors. We argue that these differences contribute to the higher public and policy profile of climate change and can inform attempts to enhance responses to the problem of biodiversity loss.


Climate change Biodiversity loss Environmental discourse Policy storyline Global environmental change