France and the UK swap notes on climate change adaptation at UCL conference


London, 8 June 2015

On Tuesday 2 June, experts in the UK and French climate fields came together at a conference at UCL to discuss the two countries’ climate change adaptation strategies.

The conference, entitled ‘Climate change: Adaptation, resilience and risks’, was organised jointly by the French Embassy in London and UCL’s Grand Challenges programme. It was the third in a series of bilateral Franco-British conferences being run by the French Embassy in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Paris in December 2015.

The BBC’s Energy and Environment Analyst, Roger Harrabin, chaired a discussion involving seven senior figures working on the topic of climate change adaptation in France and the UK, to compare and contrast what the two countries are doing, the challenges they face and what they can learn from each other. The speakers were: Célia Blauel, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of environment, sustainable development, water and the city’s climate plan; Alex Nickson, Strategy Manager for Climate Change Adaptation and Water, Greater London Authority; Professor Nicolas Beriot, Secretary General, French National Observatory on the Effects of Global Warming; Professor Lord John Krebs FRS, Chair, UK Adaptation subcommittee; Professor Hervé le Treut, Senior Researcher, French National Centre for Scientific Research; Professor Mike Davies, Professor of Building Physics and Environment, UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering; and Tim Reeder, Regional Climate Change Programme Manager, Thames Region, UK Environment Agency.

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The event, which was attended by policy-makers, academics, diplomats and students, began with a key-note lecture by Célia Blauel. She outlined the main commitments of Paris’s climate action plan, which include a 75% drop in emissions by 2050 (compared to 2004) and for 25% of the supply mix to be made up of renewable energies by 2020. She also spoke about Paris’s climate change adaptation strategy, which is currently being developed and will aim to secure the city’s water, energy and food supplies, promote more sustainable development, protect Parisians from extreme climatic events, and adapt the city to make it more attractive, pleasant and resilient.

The event was introduced by Professor David Price, UCL’s Vice-Provost, and the French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann. Speaking about the importance of tackling head-on the issue of adaptation to climate change, Mme Bermann said: “Even if the Paris conference is a success and we manage to limit global warming to an average of 2ºC, the risks posed to societies by climate change are considerable: they concern the future of major infrastructure, public health and the protection of elderly people, our urban planning systems, and the development of our agricultural and forestry practices. So the stakes will be huge, both in terms of social organization and public expenditure.

“Thanks to UCL and everyone present, we’re going to make a much-needed contribution to the joint effort to raise awareness of the risks of climate change.”

Earlier that day, the speakers took part in a series of workshops with young researchers, policy makers and professionals of the millennial generation, to look at climate change adaptation strategies from the perspectives of those whose lives will be most affected by climate change. Presentations by each of the speakers covered national, regional and city-level climate change adaptation plans in the UK and France and were followed by break-out sessions, each led by a research student from the UCL Global Governance Institute, to examine these plans from financial, public engagement and global south perspectives.

To see how the conference played out on Twitter, see a selection of tweets below:

Published on 15/06/2015

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