Negotiating Climate Change in a Post-Paris World

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Climate scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego will join political scientists and policy experts from around the world to examine the  promise and the political reality of climate change action since the Paris Agreement was drafted in 2015 in a series of talks at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2016 Fall Meeting.

Members of the media attending the Fall Meeting are invited to take part in a question-and-answer session following two panel discussions of post-Paris Agreement climate action (Tuesday, Dec. 13, 4 p.m. • Moscone West – Press Conference Room).

Scripps Director and AGU President Margaret Leinen will convene the Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture “Shifting the Energy Mix in a Post-Paris World” (Tuesday, Dec. 13, 12:30 p.m. • Moscone North – Hall E) and the union session “The Path Forward from Paris, One Year Later” (U23A • Tuesday, Dec. 13, 1:40 p.m. • Moscone North – Hall E).

“The world celebrated the historic Paris Agreement last year and again as it came into force a few weeks ago,” said Leinen. “Now we focus on how this agreement will work and how to fashion economies that support our communities while decreasing the risk of harmful climate impacts.”

The Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture, moderated by science blogger and former New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin, will explore how the world might achieve the rapid decarbonization that will be necessary to prevent global temperature increases from crossing dangerous thresholds. Among the panelists is Scripps Oceanography Distinguished Professor of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who has argued recently for a fast action plan that includes the spread of sub-national programs, mitigation of so-called short-lived climate pollutants such as methane and black carbon soot, and a later-stage revival of forests and adoption of carbon capture and sequestration programs. Ramanathan will highlight the University of California’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative and the “Bending the Curve” report in which he played a leading role in writing. Ramanathan said the initiative calls not just for advances in clean technology but also a transformation of societal attitudes toward sustainability that can be facilitated by religious leaders and other influencers.

In the session “The Path Forward from Paris, One Year Later,” Leinen will deliver a presentation co-authored by UC San Diego researchers George Tynan, David Victor, Charles Kennel, Ray Weiss, and Ralph Keeling that considers the likelihood that the pledges made in the Paris Agreement will help society reach the goal set forth in the agreement.

The authors note that there is no guarantee that the world will limit global warming to 2° C over pre-industrial temperatures even if all countries uphold their pledges. Additionally, the recent U.S. election and other political developments add a level of uncertainty to future mitigation commitments.

“Our international colleagues rightly fear that they will not see as much of America at COPs anymore,” said Kennel, a former Scripps director. Kennel also attended COP22 climate talks in November in Marrakech, Morocco and will join Leinen at the media availability event.

“Despite the gloom that settled in on Marrakech after Nov. 8, I believe that America will continue to play a strong role in climate affairs because of our research institutions and innovative industries. Our responsibilities as scientists have never been greater,” Kennel added.

The cross-disciplinary approach of the report, which includes contributions from engineers and physical, social, and political scientists, reflects a multi-dimensional approach to global warming, exemplified by the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation based at Scripps, which was established in 2015.

Other aspects of the Paris Agreement suggest that there could be meaningful developments in specific arenas such as ocean protection. Scripps researchers note that marine ecosystems stand to experience profound impacts even under the most ambitious mitigation scenarios, but that they are at least receiving greater acknowledgement in the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that countries have pledged. The Paris Agreement, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, includes an equal focus on adaptation and mitigation, allowing for the engagement of many developing nations working to adapt to climate change impacts. As a result, topics like the ocean that received little attention during previous climate negotiations, are now being raised by many developing countries in discussions of climate adaptation and mitigation.

This shift is captured in NDCs, where 70 percent of submitted pledges include coastal, marine, or ocean issues, according to Scripps student Natalya Gallo, who presented an analysis of NDCs at COP22. The increased attention to the ocean and climate connection can also be seen through the recent decision by the IPCC to generate a special report on the Oceans and Cryosphere and the signing of the Second "Because the Ocean” declaration in Marrakech.

 

PRESENTATION: • Tuesday, Dec. 13, 12:30 p.m., Moscone North – Hall E

“FRONTIERS OF GEOPHYSICS LECTURE: SHIFTING THE ENERGY MIX IN A POST-PARIS WORLD”

 

PRESENTATION: U23A • Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2:30 p. m., Moscone North – Hall E

“THE PATH FORWARD FROM PARIS, ONE YEAR LATER”

 

MEDIA EVENT: Tuesday, Dec. 13, 4 p.m., Press Conference Room, Moscone West 3000 Q AND A WITH PANELISTS FROM “THE PATH FORWARD FROM PARIS, ONE YEAR LATER”

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