Charles F. Sabel is a professor of law and social science at Columbia Law School. Previously, he was Ford International Professor of Social Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His undergraduate degree is in social studies, and his graduate degree is in government, both from Harvard University. His earlier work focused on the crisis of mass production and its implications for the regulation of markets and the macroeconomy. His more recent work develops pragmatist ideas into a general conception of democratic experimentalism, with particular attention to regulation, the provision of complex social services, and contracting under uncertainty. Sabel’s current projects include the elaboration of experimentalist or incremental solutions to apparently global problems such as trade and climate change; an investigation of the current transformation of U.S. administrative law in the face of uncertainty; and new models of economic development emerging with the spread of advanced techniques of “industrial” production to all sectors of the economy in the context of globalization.
Global climate diplomacy—from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement—is not working. Despite decades of sustained negotiations by world leaders, the climate crisis continues to worsen. The solution is within our grasp—but we will not achieve it through top-down global treaties or grand bargains among nations.
Charles Sabel and David Victor explain why the profound transformations needed for deep cuts in emissions must arise locally, with government and business working together to experiment with new technologies, quickly learn the best solutions, and spread that information globally. Sabel and Victor show how some of the most iconic successes in environmental policy were products of this experimentalist approach to problem solving, such as the Montreal Protocol on the ozone layer, the rise of electric vehicles, and Europe’s success in controlling water pollution. They argue that the Paris Agreement is at best an umbrella under which local experimentation can push the technological frontier and help societies around the world learn how to deploy the technologies and policies needed to tackle this daunting global problem.
A visionary book that fundamentally reorients our thinking about the climate crisis, Fixing the Climate is a road map to institutional design that can finally lead to self-sustaining reductions in emissions that years of global diplomacy have failed to deliver.
- Rory O’Donnell, Charles F. Sabel, and Larry O’Connell. “A Critical Juncture in Irish Agriculture and the Green Transition." 2023.
- Filippo Barbera and Charles F. Sabel. “Fixing the Climate: Charles Sabel in Conversation with Filippo Barbera.” Sociologica 17(1), 2023, pp. 197-205.
- Jonathan Zeitlin, Jan-Kees Helderman, and Charles F. Sabel. “Transforming the Welfare State, One Case at a Time: How Utrecht Makes Customized Social Care Work,” In Politics & Society, 27 January 2023.
- Dani Rodrik and Charles F. Sabel. “Building a Good Jobs Economy.” In Political Economy and Justice, edited by Danielle Allen, Yochai Benkler, Leah Downey, Rebecca Henderson and Joshua Simons. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022.
- Jeremy Kessler and Charles F. Sabel. “The Uncertain Future of Administrative Law,” The Modern Administrative State: Reconstruction or Deconstruction? Daedalus, edited by Mark Tushnet, Summer 2021.
- Bernard Hoekman and Charles F. Sabel. “Open Plurilateral Agreements, Global Spillovers and the Multilateral Trading System,” Global Policy special issue, 2021.
- David Victor and Charles F. Sabel. “How to Fix the Climate,” Climate Action, Boston Review of Books, 2020, pp. 11-30.
- Mikko Annala, Iacopo Gronchi, Juha Leppänen, Silva Mertsola, and Charles F. Sabel. “A Call for Humble Government: How to overcome political gridlock in liberal democracies.” Government of Finland’s Analysis, Assessment and Research Activities and Demos Helsinki, 2021.
- Piero Ghezzi and Charles F. Sabel. “The quality hurdle: Towards a development model that is no longer industry-centric,” forthcoming, 2021.
- Charles F. Sabel, Rory O’Donnell, and Larry O’Connell. “Self Organization under Deliberate Direction: Irish Dairy and the Possibilities of a New Climate Change Regime,” Under review by Regulation and Governance, 2019.
- Charles F. Sabel. “Preface,” Enrichment: A Critique of Commodities, (by Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre). Cambridge, UK; Medford, MA: Polity, 2020.
- Charles F. Sabel. “Sovereignty and Complex Interdependence: Some Surprising Indications of Their Compatibility,” Ideas that Matter: Democracy, Justice, Rights (edited by Annabelle Lever and Debra Satz), Oxford University Press, 2019.
- Kevin Morgan and Charles F. Sabel. “The Experimentalist Polity,” Radical Visions of Future Government (edited by Tom Symons), NESTA, 2019, pp. 75–81.
- Bernard Hoekman and Charles F. Sabel. “Open Plurilateral Agreements, International Regulatory Cooperation and the WTO,” RSCAS Working Papers 2019/10, European University Institute, 2019; Global Policy 10(3), 2019, pp. 297–312.
- Bernard Hoekman and Charles F. Sabel. “In a World of Value Chains: What Space for Regulatory Coherence and Cooperation in Trade Agreements?” Megaregulation Contested: Global Economic Ordering After TPP, edited by Benedict Kingsbury, et al., Oxford University Press, 2019.
- Charles F. Sabel and Piero Ghezzi. 2019. “Rethinking Informality.”
- Charles F. Sabel and Gary Herrigel. “Collaborative Innovation in the Norwegian Oil and Gas Industry: Surprise or Sign of a New Economy-wide Paradigm?” Transformations in the Petroleum Innovation System: Lessons from Norway and Beyond (edited by Taran Thune, et al.), Routledge, 2018.