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Assessing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Policies: New Science Tools in the Service of Policy and Negotiations

AMS Climate Change Audio - Environmental Science Seminar Series (ESSS)

04/17/09 • 94 min

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New Tools for Assessing GHG Reduction Policies As negotiations towards a post-Kyoto agreement on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions intensify, there is a pressing need for flexible, user-friendly analytical tools to quickly yet reliably assess the impacts of the rapidly evolving policy proposals for emissions of greenhouse gases and their impact on the global climate. Such tools would enable negotiators, policymakers and other stakeholders, including the general public, to understand the relationships among proposals for emissions reductions, concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere, and the resulting changes in climate. The new Climate-Rapid Overview And Decision Support Simulator (C-ROADS) developed by MIT, the Sustainability Institute, and Ventana Systems, in partnership with the Heinz Center, is just such a tool. C-ROADS is a user-friendly, interactive computer model of the climate system consistent with the best available science, data and observations. An international scientific review panel, headed by Dr. Robert Watson, former chair of the IPCC, finds that the C-ROADS model “reproduces the response properties of state-of- the-art three dimensional climate models very well” and concludes “Given the model’s capabilities and its close alignment with a range of scenarios published in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC we support its widespread use among policy makers and the general public.” Biographies Dr. John D. Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor of Engineering Systems and Director of MIT's System Dynamics Group. He is an expert on nonlinear dynamics particularly as applied in economic and socio-technical systems including energy, the environment and climate policy. Prof. Sterman's research centers on improving managerial decision making in complex systems. He has pioneered the development of "management flight simulators" of economic, environmental, and organizational systems. These flight simulators are now used by corporations and universities around the world. His recent research includes studies assessing public understanding of global climate change, the development of management flight simulators to assist climate policy design, and the development of markets for alternative fuel vehicles that are sustainable not only ecologically but economically. Dr. Robert W. Corell, Vice President of Programs for The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment’s Global Change Director is also a Council Member for the Global Energy Assessment and a Senior Policy Fellow at the Policy Program of the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Corell also shared in the Nobel Peace Prize Award in 2007 for his extensive work with the IPCC assessments. In 2005, he completed an appointment as a Senior Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of the Kennedy School for Government at Harvard University. Dr. Corell is actively engaged in research concerned with both the science of global change and with the interface between science and public policy, particularly research activities that are focused on global and regional climate change and related environmental issues. He currently chairs an international initiative, the overall goal of which is to strengthening the negotiating framework intended to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, central to which is the development and use of analytical tools that employ real-time climate simulations. Dr. Corell also chairs the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment as well as an 18-country international planning effort to outline the major Arctic-region research challenges for the decade or so ahead. He recently led an international strategic planning group that developed strategies and programs designed to merge science, technology and innovation in the service of sustainable development.


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