Climate Futures

Climate Futures

February 22nd 2010

Speaker: Professor Michael Oppenheimer
Time: 4.00-5.00pm
Location: Lindsay and Drysdale Rooms, Level 3 Function Rooms, U@MQ
Audience: Everyone

Abstract: The outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Summit, or Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has generally puzzled or disappointed observers of the climate negotiation process. But a careful weighing of expectations and outcomes suggests that significant progress was achieved toward establishing an effective international political and legal framework for reducing greenhouse gas emmissions. Particularly noteworthy were the establishment of a reporting of emissions targets by developing countries, and the commitment to aid for least developed (and other developing) countries to facilitate adaptation to climate change. In this talk, I explain the origin and purposes of the UNFCCC process, including the Kyoto Protocol, its unique format compared to other international negotiations (particulary with regard to the roles played by NGOs and other observers), and the scientific underpinnings of the process and its newly-identified long term objective. The potential course of future negotiations is considered in light of the growing importance of China and other developing countries that are major emitters, the continuing absence of a focused US regulatory effort, and prospects for changes in the latter over time.

Bio: Professor Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton. He is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, serving recently as a lead author of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report and now as a coordinating lead author of a special report on climate extremes and disasters. Oppenheimer has been a member of several panels of the National Academy of Sciences and is now a member of the National Academies' Board of Energy and Environmental Studies.

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