Prof. Christopher Field: Climate change should be seen through the lens of risk management theory


Climate change is among the main challenges of today. The problems, which they cause, affect continents, governments, local communities and each one of us. This said Dr. Irina Alexieva – Executive Director of the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”, during her opening words at the public lecture of Prof. Christopher B. Field “Risks from a Changing Climate – What to Expect?” The event took place on 15 September at the Sheraton Hotel. Irina Alexieva highlighted that the large floods in the country from the last weeks were just one of the reasons to invite Prof. Field to deliver this lecture. The other reason was the fact that climate change is not only here and now, but it marks the lives of future generations as well. And the sooner we realize this fact and the faster we take actions, the more we will be honest to them.

Prof. Christopher Field is a co-chair of the Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the United Nations, said Sasha Bezuhanova, the Chair of the BSoP Board of Directors, during her presentation of the speaker. She added that he is also Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University, and director and founder of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology.

In his lecture, Prof. Field outlined the problem with climate change and its solutions. There is no doubt that climate change is already here and it is visible in several areas: physical – the ocean level increases, biological – species extinction, and economical. As an example he mentioned that until two decades, the increased yields was among the biggest economic achievements, while for the last 20 years the yields have been decreasing with almost 2 % as a result of climate change.

Climate change should be seen as a challenge also through the lens of risk management theory, said Prof. Field. He added that it affects security in terms of food security, financial security, environmental security and so forth. According to him, the main reasons for climate hazards are three: The first one is physical climate or in other words – the triggering event, like severe rains. The second one is vulnerability, or the lack of sensitivity to potential risks and lack of preparedness, so as the society to be able to deal with the problem. The third reason is different types of activities which are on the way of the hazard – ecosystems, factories, buildings, or infrastructure. Factor

Vulnerability is not limited only to poor regions, said Prof. Field. It affects also bigger cities. To decrease it, we need to make investments in climate mitigation measures. We have to see these adaptation and mitigation measures as something which goes in parallel, as well as hand-in-hand with economic development. In the next 25 years, humanity most probably will spend about 100 trillion USD for investments in climate adaptation measures. And these investments would serve as a base for new technological spheres for development of our economies, said Prof. Field.

He stressed upon the role of ethics and morals in climate change. Most changes in climate, which will occur in the next decades, have been already set. We have the opportunity to take measures now, but if we continue to produce the same amount of emissions, at the end of this century we will have changes in climate, which we cannot control. That is why, more and more countries started to see climate change mitigation measures as a national priority. Even China did this last year, when it started operating more photovoltaics comparing to the rest of the world. For climate change measures, the decades ahead will be years of responsibility. What we need now is collaboration between private and public sectors and involvement of everybody.

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