Implications of a changing climate: latest insights from CPD staff and fellows


COP21 convenes at a critical point in climate science and policy. By Christmas, the world passes the 1C temperature increase –  half way towards the scientifically-accepted threshold of 2C by the end of the century. The UN confirmed in November that 2015 is the hottest year on record, and 2011-2015 the hottest five-year period. Whilst the announced national contributions by attending states represent a substantive step towards robust action, we are still on track for a global temperature shift of 3.5 – 4 degrees Celsius by century’s end.

What are the ramifications of this? Will Paris be another Copenhagen? What lies ahead for Australia in 2016 and beyond? CPD offers you the research, intelligence and briefings that addresses these and other key questions.

COP21 –insight on the major conference developments from the experts

As the Conference of the Parties begins its two week schedule, there is strong commitment from a diverse range of stakeholders for the development of a binding agreement. It is likely that 2015 will be viewed as a pivotal year in humanity’s struggle to combat climate change. This year has seen a global resurgence by developed and developing states to take comprehensive action on reducing carbon emissions. Civil society organisations from around the world have had their advocacy strengthened by increasingly strident demands for action from multinational corporations and commercial sectors.

As the world watches Paris for signs of progress, we’ll be seeking the latest latest insights from two CPD fellows who are in attendance. Fiona Armstrong is the Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance, and one of Australia’s foremost experts in understanding how climate change will affect population health and wellbeing. Fiona’s organisation, the Climate and Health Alliance released a report in November demonstrating how Australia is well behind other industrialised nations in protecting citizens from major health risks associated with global warming.

CPD fellow Professor John Wiseman is Deputy Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, and  an expert in identifying climate risks and solutions, particularly for Australia’s metropolitan cities. John’s insights from COP21, published on the MSSI COP21 blog and cross-posted at CPD, will give you an understanding of not only how our major capitals will be affected but how they can lead Australia’s solutions for cleaner economy.

While Fiona and John will give you the latest intelligence from Paris, back in Australia CPD fellow Ian Dunlop will also be unpacking what it means for Australia’s future energy needs. Ian, a former executive in the fossil fuel industry, is a formidable climate and energy security expert, and has advised foreign governments on their responses to climate change. In the meantime you can catch Ian’s latest contribution to the national debate – calling for a moratorium on new coal mines – here on ABC’s website.

Also back at home, CPD CEO Travers McLeod offered an analysis this week of how unusual suspects from the corporate world who are making their voices more pronounced in the climate debate, and of who might help push global leaders towards a binding, longer-term agreement at Paris. You should also keep you eyes peeled for climate-focused contributions in CPD’s ‘Secret Santa‘ blog series in the first two weeks of December.

Catch up on CPD’s climate work from 2015

Throughout 2015, CPD has undertaken a range of policy and research work on the implications of a changing climate for Australia’s economy, society and environment.

Analyst Rob Sturrock co-authored with Peter Ferguson The Longest Conflict: Australia’s Climate Security Challenge which was released in June. Climate change is a national security concern, and Australia has significant vulnerabilities at home and abroad. Since June CPD has been closely engaged with the Department of Defence, including senior military leaders, in discussing the report’s findings. Read more about them here.

Heat stress, food shortages, natural disasters and various other threats risk seriously degrading our quality of life and those of coming generations. Ahead of Fiona Armonstrong’s updates from Paris, get a background briefing on the health implications of climate change for Australia and the Indo-Pacific region by reading the oration given by  Rob Sturrock to the Australian Population Health Congress in September.

In October, CPD hosted a roundtable with Ross Garnaut, Robyn Eckersley and Fergus Green, three of Australia’s leading climate policy experts. You can read a summary of the discussion here. This week Professor Garnaut looked ahead to COP in a detailed interview with ABC radio, while Professor Eckersley predicted a ‘mixed bag‘ from the Paris meetings.

Image from CPD’s climate policy roundtable.

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