Policymakers are relying too heavily on predictions of the impacts of climate change
As a result, they are claiming they need more research and more predictions before they can take action - and when policies are made, too little action follows.
Research by Dr Mark Charlesworth of Keele University and Dr Chuks Okereke of the Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment also warns that decision-makers are assuming impacts will take effect gradually without sufficient evidence.
The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, urges governments and others to rely less on cost-benefit analyses in determining policies because they may not be appropriate.
Dr Charlesworth said: "Our research sets the scene for more effective climate and environmental policy as it demonstrates that the near universal promotion of consumerism by national governments promotes a specific, unsustainable and probably undemocratic vision of what a 'good life' should be. In a situation of unpredictable abrupt climate change, doing what we know is in the global common good makes more sense than consuming as if there were no consequences."