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Bonn — This week, world leaders are convening along a sleepy stretch of Germany’s Rhine River for COP23, the first UN climate talks to be held since Trump announced he will withdraw United States from the Paris Agreement, the landmark climate deal arrived at in 2015.

Yet while the administration’s fossil-fuel boosterism has grabbed headlines about COP23 stateside, the UNFCCC process has more problems to reckon with than the White House. The gap between the goals laid out in Paris and the mitigation plans now on the table are vast, and bridging it—which requires decarbonizing the world economy by mid-century at the latest — may well prove the greatest collective challenge humanity has ever faced. It will also mean rethinking long-held beliefs about how economies should measure success, and what the role of the state should be in shaping economic activity.

To hear more, I sat down here in Bonn with climate scientist Kevin Anderson, Zennström professor at Sweden’s Uppsala University, chair of energy and climate change at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester and the Deputy Director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.”
(Introduction to the interview by Kate Aronoff)