On December 12, 2015, 195 countries agreed to a global pact to reduce their emissions and work towards containing climate change to 2 degrees Celsius. To give an insider’s look at how the agreement happened, the U.S. State Department’s lead climate lawyer, Sue Biniaz, spoke to a group of students, faculty, and members of the community at a lecture on January 28th. The event was the first in a new series of lectures jointly sponsored by EPIC and the University of Chicago Law School.
Nearly 200 countries agreed to a global pact to reduce their emissions and work towards containing climate change to 2 degrees Celsius during the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris last December. So what happens next? The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and Chicago Council on Global Affairs brought together a panel of experts to discuss the implications of the Paris Agreement to an audience of more than 200 on February 1st, 2016.
Wendy Abrams, founder of Cool Globes, gave introductory remarks on the panel moderated by Ed Crooks, US industry and energy editor for the Financial Times. Panelists Paul Bodnar, Ted Brandt, Michael Greenstone, and Derek Walker took questions on the outcome of Paris, and how public policy and private industries can collaborate to achieve the climate targets set by countries.
International leaders ended 2015 with what many consider to be a major win for climate change, as close to 200 countries struck a deal in Paris. Some, like the former European Commission for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, consider it a paradigm-shifting moment and calls to renegotiate it “ridiculously absurd.” Hedegaard played a pivotal role in the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 and has remained an important figure in the international climate scene ever since.
“What has been the nightmare, you could say, about all of these climate negotiations is that it has been a proxy for a much bigger battle to take the world from the north-south paradigm of the 20th century in the 1970s and onward to a new 21st century paradigm of mutual interdependency. That is what is reflected in the Paris agreement. That’s why I think it was a real step being taken,” Hedegaard said at a June 1 event hosted by EPIC.