With high-level side-events, an exhibit space, and a contingent of faculty and students, the University of Maryland and the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) had a strong presence at this year’s international climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco. Held in early November, the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) turned its focus to implementation, following the successful adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 and its recent entry into force. As the “COP of Action”, governments, business, and civil society came to Marrakech committed to determining a path forward to realize the ambitious goals of the Agreement.
In support of these efforts, CGS partnered with the NewClimate Institute, the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment, and the National Center for Climate Strategy and International Cooperation of China to discuss ways in which countries can continue to increase the ambition of their contributions. Speaking on the panel, Center Director Nathan Hultman stressed the value of knowledge-sharing and cooperation, saying, “the better information that the countries have about what they can do, the more likely that are to set an ambitious target.”
SPP Professor Anand Patwardhan spoke at a Global Environmental Facility Panel on adaptation projects in the context of development. The event allowed members of the United Nations Development Program and the Global Environmental Facility to share their insights from project implementation and the impacts of different assessment tools. Professor Patwardhan stressed the role of best practices in decision making for adaptation projects.
CGS also organized an event in collaboration with the Council for Arab Relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (CARLAC), OCP Policy Center, the Getulio Varga Foundation, and the Ministry of Municipality and the Environment of Qatar, which focused on regional partnerships between the Middle East and North African and Latin American countries to spur the expansion of renewable energy deployment. The event’s focus on broader involvement between regions was echoed by Dr. Hultman, saying, “We have a number of groups around the world that have been deeply involved in this but [...] we have only a tenth of the number of people that are familiar with this process that we probably need for the next round,” adding further that, “the question is how do you expand, how do you broaden the number of people who can engage meaningfully with these conversations?”
A highlight of the conference for UMD was the launch of the Research for Climate Action initiative (RCA). A partnership between research institutions and policymakers, RCA provides the most current and relevant data, analysis, and modeling to increase ambition for climate action. The event featured high-level participants from the climate policy and research communities. Lord Nicholas Stern, London School of Economics professor and chairman of the Grantham Research Institute, gave the keynote address at the launch, sharing his thoughts on the need to close the research loop in climate policy. Other high-level speakers included UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Thani Al-Zeyoudi, and climate champion Laurence Tubiana, who said that RCA and similar initiatives, “will play an essential role in implementing the Paris Agreement.” The event also featured a panel with Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General of The Energy & Resources Institute, Dr. Daniel Kammen of the University of California, Dr. Suzana Kahn of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Dr. Hultman.
Several other faculty, staff and students, including CGS and SPP affiliates, were part of the UMD presence. Dr. Robert Orr, Dean of the School of Public Policy, attended in his capacity as special adviser on climate change to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Dr. Leon Clarke, Research Professor at the School of Public Policy, attended in support of the release of the U.S. Mid-Century Strategy. Dr. Jennifer Hadden, an assistant professor of Government and Politics and expert in international non-governmental organizations attended, as did SPP assistant professor Elisabeth Gilmore and two doctoral students from the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic sciences. Current School of Public Policy MPP student Luting Jin noted that being at the COP helped her see how her previous work as an environmental engineer fit into the larger context of the global effort against climate change, noting she learned extensively “about the executive mechanisms under UNFCCC, and how delegates work towards the common goal of limiting global warming.”
Some of our UMD delegates also shared their thoughts on the COP and about the impact of the US election on climate action going forward. Dr. Orr and Dr. Hultman shared initial reactions to the election via video on the Center’s facebook page. Dr. Hultman and SPP Professor Gilmore also published commentaries. CGS Program Manager for Climate Implementation James Stillwell shared his thoughts on the week’s episode of America Adapts, a podcast focused on US climate policy. CGS staffer and SPP alumna Christina Bowman also attended and wrote several blogs about the COP and the impact of non-state actors on climate action.