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International expert to speak on the role of communities in addressing climate change

Nov. 8, 2007

The earth has warmed over the last century and international reports indicate that significant further warming is very likely in this century.

The risks associated with increasing climate changes and the costs of future damages are expected to far outweigh the costs needed to prevent dangerous change.

As part of the inaugural Memorial University Dialogue on Advancing Global Sustainability, Dr. Diana Liverman, director of the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at Oxford University, will give a public lecture titled Communities and Climate Change: Sustainable Responses to a Warming World on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. in room IIC-2001, located in the Inco Innovation Centre, on the St. John’s campus.

Also, Dr. Liverman is leading a research seminar on Tuesday, Nov 13, from 2-3:20 p.m. that will include a Q&A discussion in room IIC-2001. Her presentation is titled Climate Governance Beyond the Nation State: Are Corporations, Carbon Brokers and Citizens Really Reducing the Risks of Climate Change?

On Thursday, Nov 15, from 10-11:40 a.m., there is a roundtable in the dean of arts boardroom, A-5015, with Dr. Liverman titled Building Interdisciplinary Linkages to Address Environmental Change.

“From England to Mexico, local people are starting to respond to climate change by assessing likely impacts, reducing carbon emissions and planning how to live in a warmer world,” Dr. Liverman said.

“Heightened concerns have raised the stakes for the forthcoming international climate negotiations in Bali this coming December and have prompted governments in Europe and California to make major commitments to reduce emissions. “But it is at the local level that most of us will experience and respond to climate change in our lives and communities, and where many policies will succeed or fail.”

Dr. Liverman will examine the economic, social and ecological sustainability of current community level responses to climate change equal with an eye to lessons for other communities such as those in Newfoundland and Labrador.

She will also look at the difficulties in estimating climate impacts and vulnerabilities at the local level, the possibilities for reducing carbon emissions in households and the controversies over carbon offsets, and the challenges of adapting ecosystems, economies and lives to a changing climate.

At ECI, Dr. Liverman co-ordinates the work of more than 100 interdisciplinary contract researchers and doctoral students who work primarily in the areas of climate, energy and ecosystems with a strong applied and policy focus. ECI hosts or co-hosts national and international projects that include the U.K. Climate Impacts Program, the Oxford node of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and the U.K. Energy Research Centre.

Her research focuses on the human dimensions of global environmental change including climate change policy and impacts, the social causes and consequences of land use change, and environmental management in the context of globalization, especially in the Americas. She has made substantial contributions to our understanding of vulnerability to climate change and to developing larger research agendas on the social science of global change.

Dr. Liverman’s leadership roles include chairing the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change and the science committee for the ICSU Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS) program and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change (IAI).

She has been a member of committees that include the U.S. National Academy of Sciences committee on the U.S. Climate Change Science Plan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Social Science Advisory Board, NASA, NOAA Global Change Program, the U.S. National Centre for Atmospheric Research and the Global Change, Publication and Honors Committees of the Association of American Geographers. 

She is a member of editorial boards of the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Global Environmental Change, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, and Climatic Change and a contributing author and reviewer for three intergovernmental panels on Climate Change assessments.

Admission is free and parking is available in Lot 18. Reception to follow.