Students on a theater trip in Iceland.


Translating Science into Climate Action

Friday, March 29, 2019 (All day) to Sunday, March 31, 2019 (All day)

AUP’s Joy and Edward Frieman Environmental Science Center, in partnership with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, will hold a three-day international conference – Translating Science into Climate Action – that will convene figures from the foremost international policy-driving institutions in the fields of economics, global policy, climate science and biodiversity. It will aim to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the global climate challenge, while at the same time challenging young leaders to make the critical connections necessary to take action to solve the climate crisis in time. The conference will build on outcomes of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum’s High-Level Climate Congress, which took place in Oslo during the week of the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in December 2018.

Panel discussions will be accompanied by a series of workshops, open to AUP students from any major, that focus on how to translate high-level science into advocacy. Students will be encouraged to apply liberal arts perspectives to the development of creative, interdisciplinary solutions to the problem of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, arguably the most pressing environmental challenge of our time. Participants will help design a road map toward a climate-smart and climate-just society.

AUP’s climate conference will focus on three themes:

  • Risk and resilience – Climate change impacts vary enormously in nature, location, gravity, time scale and available mitigation and adaptation strategies. While some impacts are well understood using broad predictive models (eg arctic melt, heatwave occurrence, water vapor feedback), others are highly uncertain, yet potentially devastating (eg flood occurrence, coastline erosion, biodiversity loss, crop yield). What are the most pressing climate-change-related emergencies of our time? How does that risk play out in everyday human experience? What are the most urgent adaptation strategies required?
  • Investing in shared responsibility – While only a small number of wealthy nations are responsible for nearly all climate-driving greenhouse gas emissions, it is the least wealthy populations that are most vulnerable to climate impacts. What kinds of reforms to the global economy are needed to properly and fairly account for contributions to the global climate crisis? What policies are best positioned to motivate a rapid elimination of climate-destabilizing practices and incentivize sustainable and inclusive development? Are accounting, finance, energy and agriculture effective means of climate justice enforcement?
  • Intergenerational equity – The Paris Agreement acknowledges intergenerational equity as a universal right. Those with power today cannot act against the interests of those who will live with the impacts of such actions in the future. Young leaders must play a role in advancing climate action and ensuring the right of future generations to live without climate harm. How can young leaders concretely translate science into climate action? How can young leaders advance intergenerational justice and rights so that they are more effectively and explicitly accounted for in national and international policies? We will hear from international leaders working at the cutting edge of advancing climate action, through international organizations, business and finance, and science and policy advocacy. Each discussion will be followed by a Q&A session with AUP students, faculty and guests.

Following an introductory panel on Friday evening, Saturday’s schedule will consist of a variety of simultaneous workshops falling under one of the three broad themes outlined above, to be followed by rapporteur presentations and a plenary discussion.

On Sunday, student leaders will be invited to draft one to three specific actions, in collaboration with faculty and international leaders, that they and other young climate leaders will take forward concretely. These actions will be intended to drive progress in the implementation of the Paris Agreement’s goals. An article summarizing the conference outcomes will also be drafted.

At the conclusion of the conference, outcomes will be delivered for consideration in a closed high-level dialogue of experts, innovators and diplomats, who will work to build the recommendations from these three days into substantive guidance to international leaders.