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The Road Through the Paris Climate Agreement

Last December 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, and how this outcome evolved from earlier failed attempts in this process. A more important question however may be what new future for global climate cooperation is now required of us after Paris. 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 may need to look beyond the UN system to find new opportunities for enhanced climate action.
When Sep 26, 2016
from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Where Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802
Contact Phone 814-863-0314
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Last December 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, and how this outcome evolved from earlier failed attempts in this process.  A more important question however may be what new future for global climate cooperation is now required of us after Paris.  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 may need to look beyond the UN system to find new opportunities for enhanced climate action.

This event is approved for SARI@PSU participation credit.

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About the Speaker

Andrew Light headshot

Andrew Light is University Professor and Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University.  He also serves as a consultant at the U.S. Department of State, where he served as a Senior Climate Change Adviser from 2013-2015.  In that capacity he was Director of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group for Combating Climate Change, Chair of the Interagency Climate Working Group for the Sustainable Development Goals, and climate adviser in the Secretary of State's Office of Policy Planning, among other duties.  In his academic work he is the author of over 100 articles and book chapters, primarily on restoration ecology, urban sustainability, and climate change, and has authored, co-authored, and edited 19 books, including Environmental Values (2008), Controlling Technology (2005), Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (2003), Technology and the Good Life? (2000), Environmental Pragmatism (1996), and the forthcoming Ethics in the Anthropocene.  Before joining the U.S. government he was Senior Fellow and Director of International Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress, where he was chief adviser on these issues to the center's founder and chairman, John Podesta.  He has previously taught at NYU and the University of Washington in Seattle.