In the biggest gathering of scientists ahead of COP21 in December, thousands of climatologists, social scientists, economists and policy experts have descended on the UNESCO headquarters in Paris today to kick off the Our Common Future under Climate Change conference.
There’s an almost unfathomably large amount of research being presented here in the next four days. So here’s Carbon Brief’s selection of talks, posters and events caught our eye.
Carbon Brief will also be holding our final media workshop today. Come along and talk to us about how the media covers climate change, learn more about what journalists look for in a story and tell us about your own media experiences.
Come along to room VIII-Bis in the basement of the UNESCO building at 1:30pm today, sign up on the sheet outside our room or email email@example.com to join in.
Friday 10 July
9am Joseph Stiglitz – Bridging the carbon gap in the context of the financial crisis
This morning promises an action packed plenary with Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate economist and professor at Columbia University, kicking off proceedings with a talk about the economics of climate negotiations and what we should and shouldn’t expect at the Paris COP in December. (UNESCO Main plenary room 1)
10-11am Panel Discussion
No shortage of big names this morning, with a second session in the main plenary featuring a discussion between Laurence Tubiana, founder of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Rachel Kyte, group vice-president of the World Bank, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK) and Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (UNESCO Main plenary room 1)
12:50pm David Victor – The emergence of new structures for global governance
With the failure of top-down bargaining strategies, can bottom-up methods such as “building blocks” and “climate clubs” break the diplomatic deadlock? David Victor discusses. (UNESCO – Fontenoy Room IV)
4-6pm Closing plenary
To bring this week’s proceeding to a close, Chris Field, chair of the conference’s scientific committee, will summarise what’s been achieved this week and what’s next for climate science. The French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and Segoline Royale, the French minister for Sustainable Development, Environment and Energy, follow up with their take on what the next few month holds for climate science and policy. (UNESCO Main plenary room 1).
Thursday 9 July
9am Fatih Birol – Strengthening climate ambition in the energy sector
Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, kicks off this morning’s plenary with a summary of what the energy sector needs from COP21, including a concrete long term emissions goal, setting the conditions for a peak in emissions, and the possibility to review countries’ pledges every five years. Ottmar Edenhoffer and Saleemul Huq follow with keynote talks on the global state of play in mitigation and adaptation. (UNESCO – Main plenary hall)
11:30am Billy Pizer – Socioeconomics and instruments for transforming the energy sector
Carbon markets are expanding across the world, but the separate trading systems are in sharp contrast to how carbon market “architecture” was envisioned 15 years, says Pizer. Come along to hear more about how and whether they can better link together. This is part of a wider socioeconomics session from 11:30-1pm, encompassing a special focus on policy tools for mitigation in China, India and Brazil. (UNESCO – Fontenoy room XI)
4:30pm Li Shuo – Challenges and opportunities for renewable energy development in China
A look at the rapid growth in renewable energy deployment in China, the country’s ambitious targets for wind and solar energy generation and the challenges it faces in better integrating renewable energy into the grid and further reforming its aging power market. This is part of a larger session from 4:30-6pm on China’s climate policies. (UNESCO – Fontenoy room XI)
5:30pm Pete Smith – The limits to negative emissions
A session on the environmental and economic implications of different carbon-negative technologies. This includes direct CO2 removal from the atmosphere, which is expensive, but has little environmental impact, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which is cheaper, but potentially uses a lot of land. The talk is the first in a larger session on negative emissions for climate change stabilisation from 5:30-7pm today. (UPMC Jussieu – Amphi 34)
6:50pm Steve Smith – Climate legislation in the UK
The UK has traditionally been seen as a progressive nation in terms of climate action, in part due to its target to reduce emissions to at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 as part of the Climate Change Act. This talk summarises the Act, the role of the Committee on Climate Change, set up to monitor progress towards this goal, and the key costs and technologies needed to achieve it. (Jussieu – Amphi Durand)
Wednesday 8 July
10:00-10:10am Ricarda Winkelmann – Quantitative approaches to future impacts
After the keynotes in this morning’s plenary session, Ricarda Winkelmann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts research has a short talk on understanding and predicting climate impacts, both gradual and abrupt. A little later at 10:20, Corinne Le Quere talks about carbon feedbacks and their role in modifying climate change. (UNESCO – Main plenary)
11:30-1pm Early warning for thresholds and Tipping points
Tim Lenton chairs a parallel session on ‘tipping points’ in the climate system, where small changes can trigger a disproportionately large shift in a system such as the Amazon or the world’s ice sheets. At 12:10, Ricarda Winkelmann takes the floor again to talk about tipping points in Antarctica, and whether we can still avoid them. (UNESCO – Fontenoy Room IV)
11:40 Phillipe Ciais – What science tells us about emissions levels for a 2C pathway
Among other things, this talk looks at how pledges by the largest emitting countries to reduce emissions by preserving forests can contribute to staying within the internationally-agreed 2C temperature limit. This is part of a wider session on countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and how to assess them. (UNESCO – Fontenoy Room I)
1:00-6:00pm Poster – Planetary limits to BECCS
If you’re interested in how Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) could achieve negative emissions and its potential for reducing warming by 2100, go and see Andy Wiltshire and his colleagues during the afternoon poster session. (UNESCO – Fontenoy Miro)
1:30-2:30pm The Guardian’s divestment campaign
A lunchtime debate about the rights and wrongs of advocacy journalism. The Guardian’s environment editor, Damian Carrington, is on the panel along with New York Times blogger Andy Revkin and Dagmar Dehmer, climate change correspondent at Der Tagesspiegel. Get there early, it’s likely to be a packed room. (UNESCO – Fontenoy Room II)
14:43 Brian O’Neill – Avoiding the impacts of climate change
Pinning some numbers to the impacts in terms of extreme weather, health, agriculture and sea level rise that would be avoided if we follow the IPCC’s medium (RCP2.6) compared to the highest emissions scenario (RCP8.5). This is part of a wider session from 2-4:30pm looking at what a world with warming above 2C would look like. (UNESCO – Fontenoy Room VI)
Tuesday 7 July
11:40am Sandrine Bony – The Future of climate science
After the formalities of the opening plenary and Thomas Stocker’s super quick summary of the latest IPCC report, Prof Sandrine Bony kicks off a big theme for the week with a session on the future of climate science at 11:40am. (UNESCO Main plenary hall)
2:30-4pm Oceans and climate change
Our pick of a diverse session looking at the fate of our oceans is a talk by Hans Otto Portner at 2:40pm on how the impacts of rising temperatures, ocean acidification and oxygen depletion could affect our livelihoods, food and health. Straight afterwards, Jean-Pierre Gattuso explains how climate negotiations have barely touched on ocean impacts. (UNESCO – Fontenoy Room II).
4:30-6pm Attribution of extreme events
A whole parallel session looking at how high impact extreme events are changing and why, with the Met Office’s Peter Stott and Dim Coumou from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (UNESCO Fontenoy – Room VI). In a separate session about climate services, Heidi Cullen is giving a talk at 5:50pm on doing real-time attribution. That means being able to say how climate change has affected the likelihood of a specific event occurring, like the recent heatwave sweeping Europe, while it’s still going on. (UPMC Jussieu – Room 307)
4:40pm Anda Ionescu – Long term damage on the stone and glass of Paris
An interesting-sounding talk by Anda Ionescu from the Universite of Paris Est on how climate change could affect the cultural heritage of the great city of Paris. Changing weather patterns and air pollution could affect the ‘urban fabric’ of the city throughout the 21st century by damaging glass, stained glass and stone (UNESCO Fontenoy – Room IV). For more Paris-specific research, go and see Irene Xueref-Remy’s poster on how scientists monitor emissions in the French capital from the top of the Eiffel Tower. (UPMC Jussieu – Posters Block 24)
4:50pm Andy Shepherd – Measuring Earth’s polar ice sheets from space
Andy Shepherd from the University of Leeds presents the latest results from satellite measurements of ice loss and outlines plans for the second satellite intercomparison study, which aims to reconcile different ways of measuring ice loss and predict future losses. The whole session on ice sheets and sea level rise (4:30-6pm) is shaping up to be a good one, with other speakers including Jonathan Gregory and Anny Casanave. (UNESO Fontenoy – Room IX)
5pm Matt Palmer – Earth’s energy imbalance
More of the Sun’s energy is entering Earth’s atmosphere than leaving, which means the planet is warming. The Met Office’s Matt Palmer explains how rising surface temperatures, melting glaciers, changing rainfall, sea level rise and more extreme weather are all symptoms of the accumulation of energy, but more than 90% ends up in the ocean. (UPMC Jussieu – Room 201)
5pm Niamh Cahill – Changing points of global temperature
Has there been a “hiatus”, “slowdown” or “pause” in global surface temperature? Cahill’s statistical look at the four major temperature datasets suggests not – they find no evidence of any significant change in the warming trend since 1970 (UPMC Jussieu – Amphi 15). This is the first talk of a wider session on the hiatus, running through till 6:30pm. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a press briefing at 1pm with Thomas Stocker talking about this and other topics, too.
4:30-6pm Special dialogue on climate change and the media
Carbon Brief will be attending a session with invited media, academics and scientists to discuss how the media covers climate change. Under discussion is how to best communicate the complexities of climate science to the public through the media and why climate change remains largely confined to the science or environmental pages.
Carbon Brief will also be running informal workshops each day from 1:30-2:30 for scientists to come along and talk to us about how the media covers climate change, learn more about what journalists look for in a story and tell us about their own media experiences. Come along to room VIII-Bis in the basement of the UNESCO building at 1:30pm, sign up on the sheet outside our room or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join in.
Main image: Ségolène Royal at the Our Common Future Under Climate Change Conference.
A Carbon Brief guide to the Our Common Future conference in Paris - Final day