Along with adaptation, mitigation is a term that has been used widely by the United Nations since 2000 to avoid discussing the politics of oil, capitalism, and fossil fuel extraction and combustion.

As an official goal of national-level climate policy, mitigation means making climate change “less bad.” The idea is that the climate is a kind of “nature” unrelated to “society” and that only professional scientists can fully understand the effects of an excess of CO2 molecules. Therefore, the best way political elites can ensure climate change is “less bad” is by consulting with these experts on the cheapest ways of reducing the excess of molecules—while continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels and defending capitalism.

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