George Mason University & World Resources Institute
2013-2016, Senior Climate Change Adviser, U.S. Department of State
DATE: Wednesday, February 8, 2017
TIME: 4:00-5:30 PM
PLACE: 126 Barrows
TITLE: The Road from the Paris Climate Agreement
DESCRIPTION: In December 2015 over 190 countries met in Paris for the 21st meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change where they succeeded in creating a new international climate agreement. Many have heralded the outcome as a groundbreaking achievement for international diplomacy and global climate action. Others have argued that the climate commitments that parties brought to the table in Paris are ultimately too weak to achieve the agreements’ lofty aspirations. To better understand the significance of the new Paris Agreement we will review the recent history of the UN climate negotiations, how this outcome evolved from earlier failed attempts in this process, and measure what its impact could be. A more pressing question, however, may be what new future for global climate cooperation is now required of us after Paris, especially in light of the US election. To close the current gap between the Paris pledges for emission reductions, and what is needed to achieve our long-term goals for climate stabilization, we will need to continue to strengthen the profile of climate change as equal to other global priorities, and find new opportunities for enhanced climate action that all parties can embrace despite their differing domestic circumstances.
BIO: Andrew Light is a University Professor of Philosophy, Public Policy, and Atmospheric Sciences at George Mason University, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute, in Washington, D.C. From 2013-2016, he served as a Senior Adviser and India Counselor to the Special Envoy on Climate Change and a Staff Climate Adviser in the Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning, in the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity he served on the senior strategy team for the UN climate negotiations, Director of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group for Combating Climate Change, and Chair of the Inter-agency Climate Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals, among other duties.