This article is based on the talk I delivered at the 2006 International System Dynamics Conference in Nijmegen, upon receiving the Jay W. Forrester Award for Exploring policy options with a behavioral climate–economy model (Fiddaman, 2002). Here I attempt to step back from modeling particulars, to talk about the global policy context of climate change. In particular, it appears to me that a great deal of effort is misdirected toward policies that are unlikely to achieve significant mitigation of climate change. Redirecting that effort toward practical policies requires a shift in the regulatory paradigm of policymakers and the mental models of the public. System dynamics is well positioned to contribute some of the innovations needed to make that shift happen. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.