Sunday, August 25

UC to present recommendations at UN climate change conference

The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the report said the rise in global temperature can be kept to 3.6 Farenheit degress annually. In fact, the report said the rise can be kept to 3.6 Farenheit degrees in total.

University of California researchers will present a report recommending officials to regulate carbon emissions and reduce short-lived pollutant concentrations at a United Nations conference on climate change later this month.

Fifty UC researchers contributed to a report, announced Oct. 27 at the UC Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit, that made 10 recommendations for achieving carbon neutrality and combating climate change. The annual conference intended to involve government, business and civil society leaders in creating a new set of strategies for addressing climate change, said Susanna Hecht, a researcher on the report and a UCLA urban planning professor.

Governmental officials from each UN country will attend the 12-day conference that begins Nov. 30. The goal of the conference is to create a legally binding and universal agreement on climate policy, according to the conference’s website.

The report’s title, “Bending the Curve,” refers to the upward curve of carbon emissions and the need to lower carbon emissions to reach carbon neutrality and climate stability. The recommendations were grouped into government-, market- and technology-based solutions, among others.

UC spokesperson Kate Moser said the report was initiated to develop concrete solutions that Gov. Jerry Brown and others can share at the conference in Paris in November.

University officials are also pursuing other programs under the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. On Oct. 6, the UC launched the Cool Campus Challenge, during which students and faculty compete to see which campus can most reduce its carbon footprint by Dec. 10 and help the UC reach carbon neutrality.

Jon Christensen, senior editor of the report and an adjunct assistant professor in the UCLA history department and the environment and sustainability institute, said the recommendations are based on the research and policies implemented in California and on UC campuses. He added the campuses act as laboratories where solutions for carbon neutrality are tested.

“Something like the Cool Campus Challenge is an interesting experiment in figuring out how to show people there are concrete, practical steps they can take in their daily lives,” Christensen said.

Cara Horowitz, a co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in the UCLA School of Law and researcher on the report, said some of California’s policies, such as the strict regulations that led to a 90 percent reduction in Los Angeles smog, serve as a model that can be scaled to work for other countries. One of the recommendations states that governments should introduce direct regulatory measures on emissions.

“California has some of the most aggressive and successful climate regulations in the U.S. and arguably the globe,” Horowitz said. “We looked at the regulations in California to find what lessons would be applicable to other places.”

Hecht said she expects all the recommendations will be met with controversy. She said harsh regulations have been shown to be successful in California, but some people worry the costs of implementing them will harm the economy. Despite concerns, Hecht said she doesn’t think strict regulations are problematic because California still has an influential economy.

“California has the eighth-biggest economy in the world, but is only responsible for one percent of emissions,” Hecht said. “You can’t say that a clean economy drives jobs away.”

Horowitz said the report also recommends that governments implement market-based measures to create incentives for businesses and individual people to reduce their carbon emissions.

Hecht said the report recommends reducing the amount of short-lived climate pollutants, such as soot and methane, because they can be removed quickly using already available technology. She added carbon reduction efforts would not have the same immediate impact.

The rise in global temperature can be kept to 3.6 F, if the technology current available for reducing these short-lived climate pollutants are fully implemented by 2030, according to the report. If no changes are implemented, warming could rise by 14 F by the end of the century.

Horowitz said she thinks developing nations are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. The report said the poorest 3 billion people in the world are responsible for only about 5 percent of emissions.

The report also encourages community and religious leaders to work with researchers and scholars to integrate environmental protection with their care of the poor and disadvantaged.

Christensen said he thinks the report is unique because it incorporates expertise from a range of fields, including the humanities, economics, policy and climate science. Some recommendations look to change social attitudes toward climate change, while others focus on regulatory changes.

“If science and technology were enough to solve the challenge of climate change, it would already be solved,” Christensen said.

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  • Ina Lionsden

    Someone is really not good at math: “The rise in global temperature can be kept to 3.6 F annually, if the technology current available for reducing these short-lived climate pollutants are fully implemented by 2030, according to the report. If no changes are implemented, warming could rise by 14 F by the end of the century.” 14 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and 3.6 degrees annually? 3.6 degrees annually would mean a temperature rise of 306 degrees. Does anyone actually read this stuff before it gets published?