The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change states that participating nations should seek to “avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” In response, participating nations are planning and undertaking a wide variety of mitigation and adaptation actions, and investigation of options for mitigating and adapting to climate change is an increasingly prominent aspect of climate science. The UK’s AVOID programme, and similar efforts in the United States, have produced a series of interesting findings over the past several years, making this an opportune time for a scientific workshop to discuss and compare results, identify important knowledge gaps, and define future research plans.
The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Science and Innovation Network and the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) jointly hosted a successful US and UK collaborative workshop in Washington 14th 16th DC, on the to the September 2010, as part of the DECC/Defra-funded AVOID programme. This workshop brought together more than 50 US and UK researchers from across the realms of climate science, impacts research, socio-economics, policy and technology development, with an aim to share and compare the latest policy-relevant scientific research on avoiding dangerous climate change. The workshop was followed by a briefing for policy makers in the Senate meeting rooms of the US Capitol Visitors Center.
The workshop was structured around the three questions and themes derived from the UK AVOID programme:
- What potentially undesirable physical large-scale changes in the climate system might occur?
- What emissions, climate and warming pathways hold promise for avoiding potentially dangerous climate changes, and what are the associated impacts?
- Are these pathways feasible? What are the related implications for mitigation, adaptation, and residual impacts?
The overarching purpose of the workshop was to consider, in an integrated fashion:
(a) risks associated with climate change;
(b) costs of climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation; and
(c) the relationship of near- and long-term targets and actions.