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Day 1 Blog: COP 22 - Marrakech Update

Monday, November 7, 2016

By Caroline Dunning and Joshua Talib

“The Paris Agreement freed Climate Research”

Jochem Marotzke, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Whilst our first day brought much excitement with official UN security checks, much curiosity over the COPbot and amazement over the enormity of the conference as a whole, the day was a huge learning curve.

Based within the blue zone at COP22, our exhibition stand (shared with Sahara and Sahel Observatory) has been receiving much attention at COP as well as through social media. However a key highlight for me was the selection of talks presented during an afternoon side-event, Urgencies in Fundamental Climate Research following the Paris Agreement.

Jochem Marotzke, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (Germany), opened the discussion to state three simple questions which research should aim to answer in the future:

  • Where does anthropogenic carbon release actually go?
  • How does this carbon release impact our weather?
  • How does this carbon release impact the Earth’s habitability?

There was also the emphasis that we need to mobilise the human spirit and in particular the participation of new minds into climate science research.

A selection of talks following this brief introduction displayed research from a range of topics including regional modelling for food security, understanding large-scale circulation changes from climate change over Antarctica, deciphering anthropogenic carbon uptake in Latin America, and a brief summary to the short-term future of the IPCC.

However for me the most influential point presented came from a panel member who joined the discussion. Wilfran Moufouma-Okia, (the Republic of Congo, IPCC WG1) asked the question:

“Do we have the balance right with linking fundamental weather research onto adaptation and mitigation strategies? Should adaptation and mitigation strategies enthuse our research, or should our research be developing the mitigation and adaptation strategies?”

His answer to this was that more research that has an impact to the wider society is being encouraged. Of course fundamental weather research and adaptation and mitigation strategies both feed into one another. However, climate scientists are only just beginning to fully embrace the challenge of ensuring a positive impact to their work. As hopeful young, future scientists, interacting with NGOs, political party members and other research institutes, we can begin to understand the best ways of ensuring that our research has a much wider impact.

Over the next few days we hope to gain an overarching view of the some of the key players at COP22. Working together with other SCENARIO students, COPbot and the Walker Institute, this upcoming week will be a time to reflect on and improve current research practices.  

The other side event that we attended focused on the linkages between National Adaptation Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions, using the actions of the Philippines as an example. The Philippines are the 13th most climate vulnerable country and the 4th most affected by extreme weather events. A key concern is that action on climate change must support development needs and must not limit development progress; the first paper produced by Manila University to support the implementation of the Paris agreement was on “climate proofing the development agenda”. This paper demonstrated the synergies between the Paris Agreement and the sustainable development goals in supporting development and reducing poverty.

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