In November twelve PhD students and post-doctoral researchers from universities around Ireland were given the chance to meet personally with Dr. Chris Field, the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group II, at the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street in Dublin’s city centre.
This was an opportunity for participants with a wide range of research interests to ask questions and find out Dr. Field’s personal opinions on the findings and significance of AR5. Dr. Field did an commendable job of answering questions which covered a wide range of topics, from to macroeconomic feedbacks between transition to a de-carbonised energy system and the overall economy (James Glynn, UCC), to gender equality (Jane Maher, TCD) and everything in between.
There was one very clear message. The process behind Assessment Report 5 (AR5) is its greatest feature. It is a process that results in the shared ownership of the results and should leave very little wiggle room for governments when it comes to climate change policy. Especially given that the majority of countries worldwide have agreed on every single word of the report, including highly influential countries such the USA, China and the UK. With such an important document, especially one which plays such a key role in influencing global policy, transparency is fundamental. There can be no room for doubt that it is a non-biased, scientific presentation of the facts and the facts state that it is extremely likely that more than half of the warming observed during the 20th century is due to the combined effect of anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic forcing’s. The question for Paris 2015 is what are we going to do about it?
This was a rare opportunity for early career scientists to be given direct access to a co-chair of what can only be described as one of the most significant publications of our time. One could only be inspired by Dr. Fields dedication to what must sometimes seem like a long and frustrating struggle.
Post by Niamh Cullen, Earth and Planetary Surface Processes Group, Department of Geography, TCD.