Doha 2012: UN Climate Change Conference (COP18)
Many thousands have have traveled to the Qatari capital of Doha for the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For a primer on the alphabet soup of acronyms used during negotiations this article is helpful.
Scheduled to run until Dec. 7th, COP18 is intended to work towards a legally binding agreement on climate change. A large number of people affiliated with colleges and universities across the world are participating in the conference.
The Kyoto protocol is the major agreement currently at stake and which is set to expire this year. As many readers are aware, Kyoto ignited much activity in climate action planning in higher ed, even though the US was not a participating country in the agreement. Initiatives such as the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) are examples of ways in which colleges an universities have responded.
In his Wonkblog at the Washington Post, writer Brad Plummer uses three charts to illustrate what Kyoto has and has not achieved, and what a second phase of Kyoto must achieve if the world is going to avert an increase in temperature of 3-4 degrees Celsius (a threshold that the World Bank and other organizations have suggested would be dangerous to cross).
A second phase of Kyoto would only be a temporary fix however. Many are holding out hope that a commitment to signing a new treaty will happen by 2015 to take effect by 2020 (if not sooner as some are arguing for).
The common complaint that the United States is holding back progress by not being an active participant is again a refrain being heard. Yet, some are optimistic that the recent memory and destruction brought by Hurricane Sandy will propel the US to actively engage.
As has been the case in other conferences, higher education faculty, researchers and students are playing an important role by presenting on some cutting edge research related to climate change.
Recent research highlights are below:
"Estimating Global “Blue Carbon” Emissions from Conversion and Degradation of Vegetated Coastal Ecosystems" (related article, Why negotiators at Doha should care about the world’s forgotten mangroves)
"Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011" (key finding: The rate of sea-level rise of the past few decades, is greater than projected by the IPCC models. This suggests that IPCC sea-level projections for the future may also be biased low.)
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