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Kevin Anderson: Climate's Holy Trinity

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Published on Jan 25, 2019

On January 24th 2019, Professor Kevin Anderson addressed the Oxford Climate Society on "climate’s holy trinity: how cogency, tenacity & courage could yet deliver on our Paris 2°C commitment".

You can find the slides here: https://www.oxfordclimatesociety.com/...

Talk abstract:
It’s twenty-eight years since the IPCC’s first report and over a quarter of a century since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit – such heady days of international hope and optimism. Now, in 2019 and with the benefit of hindsight, we can look back and trace our voyage of abject failure – and with humility learn lessons for charting an alternative low-carbon course.

This lecture will begin by acknowledging our collective penchant for delusion on climate change. It will explore how academia has abdicated its responsibility to hold government to account, choosing instead to be complicit in maintaining a façade of mitigation. Revealing the growing gap between aspiration and action, it will argue that centuries of reductionist thinking and specialised disciplines leave us ill-equipped to understand system-level (‘wicked’) problems.

Building on a more candid foundation, the seminar will proceed to sketch out the unprecedented scale and timeframe of decarbonisation now necessary to deliver on our Paris 2°C commitment. It will conclude by elaborating a system-level framing of the challenge, with equity at its core, and asking whether a Marshall-style policy prospectus could yet deliver on the Paris commitments.

About the speaker:
Kevin Anderson has just completed two years as the Zennström professor of climate change leadership at Uppsala University, and has now returned to his position as chair of energy and climate change at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) at the University of Manchester. He has previously held the roles of deputy director and director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and he is a non-executive director of Greenstone Carbon Management. Kevin is research active with publications in Science, Nature and Nature Geosciences.

Kevin engages widely across all tiers of government (EU, UK and Sweden) on issues ranging from shale gas, aviation and shipping to the role of climate modeling (IAMs), carbon budgets and ‘negative emission technologies’. His analysis previously contributed to the framing of the UK’s Climate Change Act and the development of national carbon budgets.

Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He is a chartered engineer and a fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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