Book launch: 'Long problems: climate change and the challenge of governing across time' with Prof Thomas Hale

Forthcoming Event

23 May 2024, 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Blavatnik School of Government
120 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6GG

Long problems book cover

Join Professor Thomas Hale, Professor in Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, for the launch of his new book Long Problems: Climate Change and the Challenge of Governing across Time, in which he outlines political strategies for tackling climate change and other “long problems” that span generations.

Climate change and its consequences unfold over many generations. Past emissions affect our climate today, just as our actions shape the climate of tomorrow, while the effects of global warming will last thousands of years. Yet the priorities of the present dominate our climate policy and the politics surrounding it. Even the social science that attempts to frame the problem does not theorise time effectively. In this pathbreaking book, Thomas Hale examines the politics of climate change and other “long problems.” He shows why we find it hard to act before a problem’s effects are felt, why our future interests carry little weight in current debates, and why our institutions struggle to balance durability and adaptability. With long-term goals in mind, he outlines strategies for tilting the politics and policies of climate change toward better outcomes.

Globalisation “widened” political problems across national boundaries and changed our understanding of politics and governance. Hale argues that we must make a similar shift to understand the “lengthening” of problems across time. He describes tools and strategies that can, under certain conditions, allow policymakers to anticipate future needs and risks, make interventions that get ahead of problems, shift time horizons, adapt to changing circumstances, and set forward-looking goals that endure. As the climate changes, politics must, too. Efforts to solve long-term problems—not only climate change but other issues as well, including technology governance and demographic shifts—can also be a catalyst for a broader institutional transformation oriented toward the long term. With Long Problems, Hale offers an essential guide to governing across time.

This is a joint event with the Blavatnik School of Government.


Thomas Hale

Professor Thomas Hale
Professor in Global Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government

Professor Hale is a Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Net Zero Regulation and Policy.

His research explores how we can manage transnational problems effectively and fairly. He seeks to explain how political institutions evolve – or not – to face the challenges raised by globalisation and interdependence, with a particular emphasis on environmental, economic and health issues.

He holds a PhD in Politics from Princeton University, a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics, and an AB in public policy from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. A US national, Professor Hale has studied and worked in Argentina, China and Europe. His books include Beyond Gridlock (Polity 2017), Between Interests and Law: The Politics of Transnational Commercial Disputes (Cambridge 2015), Transnational Climate Change Governance (Cambridge 2014), and Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing when We Need It Most (Polity 2013). Professor Hale leads the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker and co-leads the Net Zero Tracker.