Two York professors headed to Doha, Qatar, on the weekend as part of the University’s fourth delegation of official observers to the annual Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A third will be blogging about the event from afar.
“This year, York’s delegation is made up of professors from quite different disciplines,” says biology Professor Dawn Bazely, director of York’s Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), which spearheaded the process of getting York civil society observer status at the UNFCCC four years ago. The convention will run until Dec. 7.
“It’s great because it provides a way for students, staff and faculty to feed into a global activity facilitated and led by the United Nations, and it gives researchers an opportunity to understand the policy process first-hand,” says Bazely. “It really is an education on how international politics work.”
Professor Muhammad Yousaf, chair of the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science, and philosophy Professor Idil Boran of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies will both be at COP 18 as civil society observers, while Professor Ian Garrett of the Department of Theatre in the Faculty of Fine Arts, who received accreditation but is unable to attend in person, plans to blog about it.
Yousaf is interested in understanding how science informs policy and will be seeking to understand exactly how the science of climate change is regarded by the policymakers and politicians.
Through her Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada-funded research, Boran is re-examining climate change with a focus on the challenges for decision-making at the individual and societal levels. At COP 18, she hopes to assess whether the strategies and arguments used in international debates are compatible or incompatible with the latest social scientific developments, and whether they can learn from one another.
Her observations of the decision-making and negotiation processes will allow her to draw implications for theory and policy practice, as well as set targets for her own research on how to analyze the new scholarly advances about decision-making on climate change policy. This, in turn, can potentially bridge the gap between climate change theory and practice.
Past York delegations have included staff, students and faculty from areas as diverse as political science, nursing and the Faculty of Environmental Studies. The experience of attending the UNFCCC COP even led to a book, Climate Change – Who’s Carrying the Burden?: The Chilly Climates of the Global Environmental Dilemma (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2010), by York environmental studies Professor Anders Sandberg and Tor Sandberg.