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LSE's impressive impact on Paris climate change summit


The far-reaching impact of LSE staff and alumni is being felt in Paris this week at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which aims to achieve a binding and universal global agreement on climate.

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate change chief, who has a master’s degree in social anthropology from LSE, is the woman tasked with saving the world from global warming.

Since being awarded her masters in 1981, she has spent her life in public service, focusing on climate change since 1995. She helped write the Kyoto protocol and subsequent agreements.

Over the next fortnight, as the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Ms Figueres has the job of persuading 195 countries to reach agreement on climate change and save the world from an environmental catastrophe.

LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (GRI) is well represented in Paris, with six academic staff either giving keynote addresses, speeches, appearing on panels, chairing sessions and contributing general policy advice and expertise.

Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the GRI, is chairing two sessions, giving a keynote address on the risks and opportunities posed by climate change and appearing on six panels during the course of the COP21 summit.

In an article published in The Guardian this week, Lord Stern makes a strong argument for the participating countries to commit to ambitious emissions cuts and clean up their cities in the process.

“There is no room for further delay,” Lord Stern writes. “Already we are seeing the impact of climate change growing around the world, with more heatwaves, more record rainfall events and more intense droughts”.

He says the UN conference in Paris provides “a moment for political leadership: an opportunity for governments to set aside narrow interpretations of their national self-interest and instead focus on the common good”.

Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director of the Grantham Research Institute, has been quoted widely in the media in relation to the 2015 UN Paris conference.

He is co-author of a policy paper on the implications for greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, calling on the 190 countries to opt for tough measures at this week’s summit to limit global warming.

This week, Mr Ward has appeared on the BBC News, Radio 5 Live, and been quoted in the Washington Post and  The Guardian.

GRI policy analyst Rodney Boyd and Co-Head of Climate Policy at the Grantham Institute, Dr Alina Averchenkova, are both panellists at COP21 and fellow GRI colleagues Isabella Neuweg and Dimitri Zenghelis are contributing to the discussions.

LSE economists Simon Dietz and Sam Fankhauser are at the forefront of LSE research which has helped governments worldwide put a price on carbon that could curb harmful emissions and save $1 trillion annually. Their work – and that of the Grantham Research Institute in general - has been credited by Christiana Figueres as having a major influence on global policy and legislation.

LSE International Development Professor Tim Forsyth was interviewed on Al Jazeera’s Newshour programme this week and LSE researcher Fergus Green was also quoted in the press, both discussing the climate change talks.

1 December 2015