C2GDiscuss

Youth perspectives on the governance of solar radiation modification in the face of global warming overshoot

23 January 2023 

This event was recorded on 25 October 2022, and will also be available with interpretation into 中文, Español and Français.

This C2GDiscuss,  recorded on 8 December 2022 explored youth perspectives on solar radiation modification (SRM) and its governance in the face of the increasing likelihood that global warming temporarily exceeds (overshoots) the 1.5 / 2°C Paris Agreement limits.

An all-youth panel of speakers discuss with C2G’s Executive Director Janos Pasztor, their perspectives about the risk of overshooting 1.5-2°C or even higher levels of global warming and whether they think young people are aware of SRM and the governance challenges it raises. How do young people view the risks posed by SRM vs the risk posed by overshooting 1.5-2°C and how might these risks best be managed. Why young people should be part of the governance discussion, and how to enhance young people’s engagement in such conversations.

Background

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) most recent sixth assessment (AR6), the current speed and scale of global emissions reductions, removals and adaptation efforts is currently almost certainly insufficient for meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5–2°C. This was echoed by the recent 2022 UNEP Emissions Gap report which highlights that there continues to be no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place.  An important new insight in AR6 was that even in the scenarios assessed with the most rapid and deep efforts resulting in the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, it is now more likely than not that global warming will exceed 1.5°C.

In addition to deep and rapid climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, an additional approach – known as solar radiation modification (SRM) – is being explored to temporarily limit global warming by enhancing the Earth’s reflectivity. Researching, developing, or potentially deploying SRM poses multiple potential risks – both known and unknown – as well as benefits. However, overshooting the Paris Agreement temperature goals also entails risks for both humanity and the ecosystems we depend on for survival.

There is currently no dedicated, formal international framework or fora to guide and connect governance processes for SRM research, development, demonstration, or deployment. The absence of such governance is a risk by itself.

Some global voices are calling for the co-evolution of research and governance around potential climate change response options, such as SRM, even against the backdrop of a recent call from globally renowned academics for an international agreement for the non-use of solar geoengineering.

Youth voices are largely absent from such discussions but given that decisions made in the coming years may lock the world into pathways for decades to come and constrain options available to future generations, it is now increasingly important that intergenerational perspectives are better represented.

Speakers:

Moderator:

Ineza Grace, Global coordinator of the Loss and Damage Youth Coaltion, and Chief Executive Officer The Green Protector

Ineza is an Eco-Feminist and impact-driven actor in the climate change/environment sector based in Rwanda and a junior researcher in the field of climate change. She believes in the power of sharing community voices and concerts to achieve climate justice. She is the co-founder of the “Loss and Damage Youth Coalition ” a coalition of + 400 youth from +40 countries advocating and taking concrete action in addressing loss and damage; she is the global coordinator. She is the founder of “The Green Protector ” a Rwandan NGO aiming to increase active youth participation in protecting the environment.

John Ferguson, Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

John Ferguson is currently a U.S. 2023 Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. With an acceptance rate comparable to and modelled after the Rhodes Scholarship, the Schwarzman Scholarship was founded in response to growing tensions between the U.S. and China with the aim to train leaders who will build bridges between China and the rest of the world. 

 John is the recipient of the 2022 Joseph Fletcher Memorial Award—the top departmental prize—for his thesis on U.S.-China climate diplomacy advised by the incumbent U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns. His work has generously been supported by a research grant from the Harvard University Center for the Environment. John is also the co-founder and former president of the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative and previously worked at the Carnegie Endowment and the Brookings Institution. After attending the inaugural meeting of the newly-formed Climate Overshoot Commission, John has become interested in ways to expand the scope and scale of U.S.-China dialogue on geoengineering. 

John is a graduate of Harvard finishing his BA (Government) and MA (Regional Studies—East Asia) in 4 years as part of the inaugural group of concurrent master’s students. 

Lydia Dai, Regional Youth Focal Point, Europe and North America, UN International Federation of Youth (UN1FY)

Lydia is a young scholar specialising in environmental sciences at University College London. Toadvocate for technology innovation and Youth Mainstreaming in adaptation governance, she currentlyserves as the Adaptation Working Group Facilitator of YOUNG, the official youth constituency ofUNFCCC, where she has built a profound knowledge of adaptation policy and science governance.She is also active in research on Solar Geoengineering and water governance. Following herextensive involvement in both science and policy, she was appointed the Regional Youth Focal Pointof the United International Federation of Youth (UN1FY), the official youth constituency hosted at theWorld Meteorological Organisation (WMO), tasked with creating a space for youth engagement inwater governance. Lydia has represented youth voices internationally, including at COP26, COP27,and meetings of the UNFCCC Adaptation Committee.

Janos Pasztor, Executive Director, Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G)

Janos Pasztor (a Hungarian and a Swiss citizen) is Senior Fellow of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and is Executive Director of the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G). He has four decades of work experience in the areas of energy, environment, climate change, and sustainable development. Before taking up his current assignment he was UN Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Change in New York under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Earlier, he was Acting Executive Director for Conservation (2014), and Policy and Science Director (2012-2014), at WWF International. He directed the UNSG’s Climate Change Support Team (2008-2010) and later was Executive Secretary of the UNSG’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (2010-2012). In 2007 he directed the Geneva-based UN Environment Management Group (EMG). During 1993-2006 he worked and over time held many responsibilities at the Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC), initially in Geneva and later in Bonn. 

His other assignments included: the Secretariat of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit ’92); Stockholm Environment Institute; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Secretariat of the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission); the Beijer Institute; and the World Council of Churches. He has BSc and MSc degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

Highlights

“How do you see youth representation in climate negotiations?”

Ineza Grace
Global coordinator of the Loss and Damage Youth Coaltion, and Chief Executive Officer The Green Protector

“What is loss and damage?”

Ineza Grace
Global coordinator of the Loss and Damage Youth Coaltion, and Chief Executive Officer The Green Protector

“Who are the most legitimate advocates for solar radiation modification research today?”

John Ferguson
Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China

“What are your views on solar radiation modification research?”

Lydia Dai
Regional Youth Focal Point, Europe and North America, UN International Federation of Youth (UN1FY). Lead, Adaptation Working Group, YOUNGO

“Why are young people more informed about carbon dioxide removal than solar radiation modification?

John Ferguson
Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China

Why is governance important for solar radiation modification?

Lydia Dai
Regional Youth Focal Point, Europe and North America, UN International Federation of Youth (UN1FY). Lead, Adaptation Working Group, YOUNGO

“How can the risk of climate change be weighed against the risk of solar radiation modification?”

Lydia Dai
Regional Youth Focal Point, Europe and North America, UN International Federation of Youth (UN1FY). Lead, Adaptation Working Group, YOUNGO

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