Streamed live and held in Oxford on Sept 9-11, 2019, a major climate change conference is taking place. Titled 'Achieving Net Zero', the conference will take stock of 'where are we' on the first day, 'where do we want to go' on the second day, and 'how do we get there' on the third day.
The first session, chaired by Oxford's Professor Myles Allen, had as guest speakers Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, and Rupert Read, as Associate Professor at the University of East Anglia and spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.
The conference sets out an immense scope, beginning with sessions defining what is meant by 'Net Zero' and also probing pitfalls ranging from the psychology of denial to what is defined as 'mitigation deterrence', or the avoidance of painful change on account of the promise ffered by Greenhouse Gas Removal Techniques (GGR).
A wide range of international speakers visited Oxford to sketch various models for global emissions and their abatement within various time models. These include Heleen van Soest, an International Climate Policy researcher from the Netherlands, and Carl-Friedrich Schleussner from Climate Analytics, Berlin, and James Shaw, New Zealand Minister of Climate Change.
Another session discussed nature-based mitigation techniques. Habitat restoration and land-use policy offer some of the most cost-effective mitigation techniques, but these have too often been overlooked by policy-makers.
Shilpi Srivastava, a research fellow at the University of Sussex, added an additional layer of warning concerning human rights and local communities. She cited afforestation case studies in India where either an existing, highly effective carbon sink had been degraded (a mangrove swamp), or where a landgrab had displaced local communities. Some of these projects result in big, impressive numbers of new trees but were actually single-species plantations of forest for cropping, their actual carbon sequestration capacity uncertain.