Transformations for climate change mitigation: A systematic review of terminology, concepts, and characteristics

Brendan Moore, Caroline Verfuerth, Angela Mae Minas, Christianne Tipping, Sarah Mander, Irene Lorenzoni, Claire Hoolohan, Andrew J. Jordan, Lorraine Whitmarsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


Deep, broad, and rapid society-wide changes are urgently required to limit global temperature rise in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Since 2005, academics and policy makers have increasingly referred to such changes as transformations. This recent uptake and rapid diffusion of transformation-related concepts in research on climate change mitigation calls for a systematic and up-to-date analysis. In this article, we address this gap by undertaking a systematic review of articles that use transformation-related terms in the social science literature on climate change mitigation. Drawing on a corpus of 198 articles identified from Scopus, we find a diverse, fragmented research field that strongly focuses on the national, city, and international levels, the energy sector, and high-income countries. Although the use of transformation terminology has increased rapidly, there are few shared definitions, which arguably constitutes a serious challenge to scholarship and evidence-based policy making. To facilitate a more cumulative and impactful approach to research, we propose transformational climate change mitigation as a new umbrella term for the varied mitigation-related societal transformations required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. We conclude by identifying priorities for future research. This article is categorized under: The Carbon Economy and Climate Mitigation > Benefits of Mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere738
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number6
Early online date22 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • climate change mitigation
  • systematic review
  • transformation
  • transformational mitigation
  • transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Atmospheric Science


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