December 15 Highlights: EPA Session and Update on IPCC Session

Posted by: Menas Kafatos

This was a full day and the last day where reasonable access to the Bella Center was provided. Besides talking to people in NGO booths and going around, I attended several key press conferences and side events. In the morning, Paul and I attended the U.S. EPA’s event on domestic climate change activities. EPA Assistant Administrator of Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy gave an overview of EPA activities, including the recent endangerment act, which declares CO2 as harmful to human health. She explained that under the clean air act, large companies will be reporting on the amounts of CO2 released. EPA gas Inventory Expert Leif Hockstad further explained that this reporting ruling does not control emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG’s). Discussion followed and we introduced ourselves.

The side event “Are we prepared for the worst-case scenario? News in Climate Science since IPCC last report” was an event of several speakers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, PBL; as well as panelists Joseph Alcamo, chief scientist of UNEP and Bas Eickhout, member of European Parliament.

The event was  well attended. I will get into more details in my 2nd blog on the science of global change but basically the speakers emphasized that still a lot of science needs to be done and the environment may be undergoing changes faster than even the IPCC anticipated. I asked a question which initiated a lot of discussion on why business is not brought in a more integral way into the whole process (which seems to be involving primarily politicians, with input from science). I was assured that business is part of the process, particularly in Europe. Without substantive worldwide business and economic involvement in the whole climate issue, we will either have just academic discussions (by academics and scientists) or just politics (by the politicians) or a combination of both (the current situation), with little real prospects of both sustainable economic development and sustainable environment. The importance of this is appreciated in the EU, in Korea and some other countries.

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