Cornellians travel to Paris for global climate summit

Cornell researchers will travel to Paris in early December as part of the university’s delegation to the global climate change summit, COP21. Even in the wake of the recent Parisian terrorist attacks, delegations from over 190 countries and more than 50,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend.

Participating in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – or COP21, for the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties – will be Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Johannes Lehmann, professor of soil science; Karen Pinkus, professor of romance studies and comparative literature; and Allison Chatrchyan, director of Cornell’s Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture. Chatrchyan, Howarth, Lehmann and Pinkus are fellows at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Climate change panel and talk Nov. 20
In preparation for the upcoming climate change meetings in Paris, Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future will host a panel discussion and a talk Friday, Nov. 20.

The Climate Change Science and Policy panel at 11:15 a.m. in Bailey Hall will feature panelists Toby Ault, assistant professor, earth and atmospheric sciences; Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and Dan Kammen ’84, professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley. The panel will be moderated by Chuck Greene, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences.

Afterward, Kammen will present a talk, “The Energy Science and Policy of the 2-Degree Climate Target,” in Room 2146 Snee Hall at 3 p.m. Kammen, a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, serves on the advisory committee for energy and the environment for the X-Prize Foundation.

Also in Paris, Brian Davis, assistant professor of landscape architecture, will address the Water, Megacities and Global Change conference, a concurrent meeting.

“COP21 is critical. The world is on a trajectory to warm to a dangerously high 1.5  degrees Celsius within 15 years and to 2 degrees Celsius within 35 years, unless we take urgent action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Howarth, who will focus on methane’s role in global warming.

Howarth will speak to international unions, as well as to Friends of the Earth Europe; Food and Water Watch; and

“The scientific community of the world is united on these points, and the world’s religious leaders – including the Pope and the Dalai Lama – have given this message their full moral authority. Now is the time to act. Paris is the place where this must happen,” Howarth said.

Pinkus will also attend workshops and meet with other humanities scholars at Paris West University Nanterre La Défense. Pinkus will reflect on the conference for several publications, as she is especially interested in geoengineering.

“I know this may sound strange coming from a literature professor,” she said. “Given that the shift to renewables will not happen fast enough, I believe we may be headed toward some combination of solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal. If we are going to further geoengineer the planet, we need philosophical reflection and critical thought to guide the technological aspects of our work.”

On Dec. 3, Cornell, along with the United Nations Development Programme, the French Institute of Research for Development, and the International Food Policy Research Institute, will host an official side event for world leaders, on “Climate Change, Agroecology, Nutrition and Food Security,” at which Lehmann will deliver a talk, “Food Security Interventions for Mitigating Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Chatrchyan will moderate the panel.

Additionally, Chatrchyan and Lehmann will be available at the Cornell exhibit in the main United Nations conference area, showcasing the university’s breadth of research and outreach capacity on climate change and agriculture around the world.  

On Dec. 1, Davis will present his research on water management in Brazil, in which his students – along with students from the University of São Paulo – have been developing environmental models and maps, river design and public space projects to study alternative scenarios for water detention structures in the city.

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Melissa Osgood