Automatgenererad bild.

Artur Runge-Metzger, Anna Lindstedt, Inge Horkeby and Joseph Aldy in the panel debate at the seminar.

Published

6 May 2015

Mistra seminar on climate policy
a step towards Paris

Researchers and decision-makers gathered in Washington DC recently for an open dialogue on international climate policy. The seminar was held by the Mistra Indigo research programme and was a step on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris.

In December, many people’s gaze will be directed towards Paris. Hopes are high that the world’s nations will reach an agreement there to reduce global carbon emissions. Preparations have long been under way and the seminar ‘Looking Ahead toward Paris: International Perspectives on National Commitments’, which was held in Washington DC on21 April, has been a way of supporting this work.

‘It was a very interesting seminar that gave us a deeper understanding of the standpoints of some key actors in the ongoing process that will culminate in Paris,’ says Åke Iverfeldt, Mistra’s Chief Executive, who was on the spot in Washington.

The day began with a roundtable discussion among some 30 invited researchers and decision-makers. After lunch, a public seminar was held in front of an audience of about 150 in a full auditorium in Sweden’s Embassy building, the House of Sweden. Many people also followed the event online. Those taking part in the panel discussion at the seminar included Sweden’s Ambassador for Climate Change (from the Ministry of the Environment) Anna Lindstedt and Artur Runge-Metzger, Director of International Climate and Strategy at the European Commission and a member of the EU’s negotiation delegation. Joseph Aldy, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and former Special Assistant to the US President, was also on the speaker list, as was AB Volvo’s Director of Environmental Affairs Inge Horkeby.

Two different views to reconcile

One of the issues discussed was how the requisite emission cuts can best be attained. The US relies mainly on numerous local and regional initiatives, for example at state level, or bilateral agreements with China and other nations. Sweden and the EU consider instead that a far-reaching joint international commitment in the UN system is necessary. Efforts to reconcile these two very different approaches are now in progress.

‘If we’re to manage the 2°C target for the maximum rise in Earth’s average temperature, both ways of tackling the problem must be included in future agreements and work processes. This emerged clearly during the discussions,’ says Åke Iverfeldt.

Behind the seminar, too, were the Swedish Embassy, the American think tank RFF (Resources for the Future) and Mistra Indigo, a four-year research programme that focuses on how climate-policy instruments are best shaped at international level. This programme has been under way since 2012 and its work has had a major impact.

‘Mistra Indigo has been important for what has happened in the climate area in the US, partly for the trading system that has emerged at regional level in California. We’re keen to keep our good American contacts and especially those with the influential think tank RFF, even after the programme ends at the end of this year,’ says Åke Iverfeldt.

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