Hidden handbrakes – exposing the unseen blockers of climate action

Side event

This London Climate Action Week side event presented and discussed invisible blockers, or 'hidden handbrakes', that are slowing down progress on climate action.

Last updated 7 July 2023
A group of people sitting at desks in a room facing a panel

Commissioner Malmström debates with INTA members the way forward to resolve in the best manner disputes by foreign investors in the context of TTIP, known as Investor State Dispute Settlements (Photo: European Union 2015 – European Parliament, via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

London Climate Action Week 2023Progress on climate change mitigation, adaptation and addressing loss and damage is painfully slow. While many of the reasons are well known, there are several major blockers to tackling climate change that are barely discussed and far from the public eye.

Action to halt or reduce further climate change is being blocked by a range of ‘hidden handbrakes’ that the public are broadly unaware of and which range from legal obstacles to subsidies for fossil fuel companies to the architecture of the global financial system.

With funding from the Generation Foundation, IIED presented the research, communications and influencing campaign that is focused on exposing these hidden handbrakes and finding ways to release them, while also creating a platform for others to join in.

Panellists shone a light on these handbrakes so we can better understand them, expose them to wider scrutiny and discuss ways the world can begin to address them.

This event was part of London Climate Action Week 2023.


  • James Persad (moderator), IIED communications director
  • Grace Eddy, director of the Generation Foundation
  • Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation editor
  • Tom Mitchell, executive director of IIED
  • Lorenzo Cotula, principal researcher and head of law, economies and justice programme in IIED's Natural Resources research group

Event coverage

Watch a full recording of the event below or on IIED's YouTube channel, where individual links to the start of each speaker's contribution are also provided.

About IIED Debates

This event was part of the IIED Debates series. Through the convening of expert speakers and external stakeholders, IIED brings together an international community to discuss critical issues.

IIED Debates encompass both physical and digital events, including critical themes, breakfast debriefs and webinars. These events are public and are hosted regularly throughout the year online and when possible in our London and Edinburgh offices.

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