This seminar is presented by Lisa Schipper, Environmental Social Science Research Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Climate and Development. The seminar is part of the Social Life of Climate Change Michaelmas Term Seminars 2021.

This talk will focus on unpacking the idea of climate resilient development (CRD). While the climate is changing, many people are still living in extreme poverty and in circumstances that will make even the current amount of warming very difficult. Even if we stop emitting greenhouse gas emissions now, we still need to work hard at achieving sustainable development. However this means that we need to achieve development that is low carbon and we also need to integrate the changes in climate that we now have (ie, we need adaptation). This is the idea behind CRD – it takes into account that development still needs to happen, but emphasises that this development needs to be different to avoid making climate change worse and to build resilience to the changes that have already happened. What we know now is that there are several options that are no longer on the table due to the way that we have already changed the climate, however some pathways to climate resilience remain. However, there are two problems (1) that the window of opportunity to forge these pathways is rapidly closing and (2) the opportunities are not even for everyone around the world. The inequitable opportunities are driven by the underlying vulnerability to climate change, which creates a rift between the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change and the gap in development. Until we close the development gap and address the drivers of vulnerability, adaptation will be inadequate. I will also address these questions: Is CRD a non-concept that only offers a false sense of hope, when we know that most pathways for many people to achieve some sort of climate resilience are no longer available? Can the idea of climate resilient development become a new development paradigm? Can adaptation, plus mitigation, plus sustainable development be more than the sum of its parts?

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