Lectures 2019

Wild Fires and Wild Policies: Sustaining the World’s forests and their life supporting functions.

Wild fires are not at all common in rainforests, but sadly wild policies are becoming more common. Climate change has reached a tipping point, becoming a climate crisis that is having a domino effect on many of our world’s forests and agroforests. Forests made our planet more habitable, and their destruction will make it distinctly uninhabitable for humans and much other terrestrial life. This talk will explore the benefits of our forests, how their functions transcend national boundaries, and how our strategies and actions should also transcend them.  

Tony Simons has worked for over thirty years on issues at the agriculture/forestry interface. This experience has been gained in over 50 countries in the private sector (Shell), academia (University of Oxford), official development assistance (ODA/DFID) and research (CGIAR). He has a PhD in genetics from Cambridge University (UK) as well as an Honorary Professorship in Tropical Forestry at the University of Copenhagen.

The talk took place on 24 October 2019 and was moderated by Bo Larsen.

The event was organised by the Sustainability Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen and Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), as a part of the Sustainability Lecture Series.

Confronting Climate Change: Is it time to embrace a new role for climate science (and scientists)?

As the global movement towards coordinated and comprehensive climate policies grows, what is the role of climate science (and scientists) in supporting this work that is happening largely outside of traditional scientific realms? To meaningfully make progress towards the mitigation and adaptation targets called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we need to embrace alternative models for how science is conducted, redefine the legitimacy of the roles scientists can play in society, and critically evaluate what constitutes knowledge in the context of climate change science. This talk explored different approaches that go beyond ‘basic research’ to support the application and use of climate science across sectors and examine the challenges and opportunities facing researchers, elected officials and the public as we work together to integrate climate science into decision-making at a range of local, national and international scales.  

Dr. Heidi Roop is Lead Scientist for Science Communication at the University Washington’s Climate Impact Group in Seattle, Washington. She is also an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the UW School of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and serves as an advisor to the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center.

The talk took place on 27 September 2019 and was moderated by Paul Vallelonga.

The event was organised by the Sustainability Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen and the Niels Bohr Institute, ICAT PhD School, as a part of the Sustainability Lecture Series.

Ocean health, ocean wealth: Building a sustainable ocean economy

The ocean is a source of life: it provides half the oxygen we breathe, and it’s home to 50-80 per cent of all life on earth. The ocean is a source of livelihoods: more than 1 in 10 people depend on fisheries and aquaculture, and the global ocean economy is set to double in 15 years. The ocean is under threat: global warming, pollution, overfishing and loss of biodiversity cause harm to the planet, devastate lives and livelihoods and undermine economic and social development. How can we take action against the threats, optimize ocean opportunities and ensure that the ocean contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

Vidar Helgesen currently serves as Norway’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. Prior to this Helgesen was Minister of Climate and the Environment, Minister of EEA and EU Affairs and Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

The talk took place on 4 September 2019 and was moderated by Katherine Richardson. The event was organised by the Sustainability Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen, as a part of the Sustainability Lecture Series.

Sustainable diets - why and how?

A sustainability seminar, held on 8 May 2019 with Brent Loken from EAT and Daniel Vennard from World Resources Institute, followed by responses and debate with experts, companies and organisations from the Danish food sector. Moderated by Katherine Richardson, leader of Sustainability Science Centre, University of Copenhagen. Co hosted by Denmark’s green think tank CONCITO and University of Copenhagen’s Sustainability Science Centre.

Session I: Presentations by EAT and WRI Opening address: Connie Hedegaard, chairman of CONCITO

  • Feeding 10 billion a healthy and sustainable diet Presentation of the EAT-Lancet Commission’s report on Food in the Anthropocene Brent Loken, Director of Science Translation
  • From why to how: Nudging consumers towards a sustainable diet Presentation of WRI’s Better Buying Lab Daniel Vennard, Director of Better Buying Lab Clarifying questions and comments from audience

Watch the opening adress by Connie Hedegaard and the two keynote presentations here:

Session II: Responses from Danish experts and stakeholders and questions from audience

  • Arne Astrup, professor and head of department at University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports 
  • Marie Trydeman Knudsen, Researcher at Aarhus University’s Department of Agroecology and member of the Danish Council on Climate Change 
  • Jakob Jønck, CEO, Simple Feast 
  • Signe Frese, CSR Director, COOP Denmark
  • Jan Johannesen, Sustainability Director, Arla 
  • Michael Minter, Head of programme, CONCITO.

Watch the responses and the following Q&A here:

Who is to blame for extreme weather events?

Today, it is well established that climate change will enviably lead to more extreme weather events across the globe. However, the specific chain of causality between emitter and victim, until now, remains uncertain. The emerging controversial science of extreme event attribution allows us to specifically assess how climate change is affecting specific hazards. With respective advances made in environmental social sciences and legal studies, we are at a threshold of establishing causal links between climate change and concrete extreme events. In this panel, Fredi Otto, Emily Boyd and Kristian Cedervall Lauta, offered an insight into attribution from a physical, social and legal perspective, and discussed what the potential implications of reaching a threshold in this arena might be.

The talk took place on 25 April 2019 and was moderated by Katherine Richardson. The event was organised by the Sustainability Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen, as a part of the Sustainability Lecture Series.

The Future of Air Transport in Low Carbon Economy  - Where will your grandchildren be going on holiday?

Over the past 50 years air transport has changed the world in which we live. Aviation growth, linked to the declining cost of flying, has given rise to new patterns of trade and migration, multicultural societies and the international tourism industry. The resulting social and economic benefits are significant, but so too the adverse environmental costs. The rapid growth of the industry is outstripping the rate of technological and operational improvements with the result that key environmental impacts are increasing year on year, a trend that is unsustainable. At a local level these are already constraining the growth of airports, meanwhile at a global level, given its reliance upon carbon fuels, the twin threats of climate change and peak oil threaten the very existence of the industry in its current form, in the longer term. Failure to deal with these environmental issues will result in increasing airport constraints, fuel and emissions costs leading to the disappearance of low cost flying. On the other hand, action to resolve these impacts (e.g. investment in step change technologies) also threaten significant increases in the cost of flying, which again have the potential to depress demand and therefore the role that aviation will play in a low carbon economy in 50 years time.

The talk took place on 11 April 2019 and the keynote speaker was Callum Thomas. Henrik Hansen moderated, respondents from Airbus and NISA, commentary by Robert Arendal. The event was organised by the Sustainability Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen, as a part of the Sustainability Lecture Series.