A new report in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A published earlier this week presents a suite of new scientific and policy research meant to improve and drive forward progress under the Paris Climate Agreement. The report – from the oldest science journal in the western world – is the culmination of presentations first delivered by attendees at the 25th anniversary conference of the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute. CPR Board President and Member Scholar Rob Verchick is among the contributing authors.
In his article, Verchick argues that the rise of global temperatures by an additional half a degree above the agreement's target could hamper our ability to address the unavoidable harms of climate change to the world's most vulnerable populations. In "Can Loss and Damage Carry the Load?" Verchick explains that developed nations have a moral and political obligation to address "the negative effects of climate change that we have not been able to avoid through emissions reductions [or adaptation measures]" that eventually accrue to developing nations. To counter any uncertainty in the scope of that harm, he calls for a process that is predicated upon flexibility adequate to account for far more expensive damages, as well as fairness and transparency toward meaningfully involving vulnerable states in the decision-making process.
The report is expected to generate international interest and to influence the work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is currently producing a report on many of the same issues explored in the Royal Society's report. Other articles in the report explore additional policy issues related to the Paris Agreement. For example, two authors present an improved methodology for assessing the social equity of mitigation policies, while another author challenges the intergenerational fairness of short-term benefits accrued to present-day generations by reductions in mitigation measures.