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Climate change

Serge Janicot
Catherine Aubertin
Martial Bernoux
et al.

Part 3. Societies and the test of climate


Scientific research and climate policies

Texte intégral

1Several prospects emerge at the end of this work, concerning both scientific research and the way of fitting in the question of climate at the level of regional and international policies.

2Climate change with anthropic causes is a key component of global change and is indicated by numerous markers in the tropics. However, as has been said throughout the book, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the environmental impacts and the impacts of other anthropic pressures such as changes in land use, deforestation and the exhaustion of resources—all related to our production modes and economic development model. Because of its complex nature, the climate question must be addressed using an ‘integrated’ approach that is essential for responding to the global challenges now faced by humans and the environment. Given the scale of the issues and the numerous arguments put forward, an interdisciplinary approach seems essential for performing research on the climate and devising appropriate operation responses. In parallel, it is also important to repolitise and re-territorialise the climate question as it cannot remain independent from the international economy, energy policies and geopolitics in general. Territorial approaches must also form part of this integrated approach in order to renew the vision of expertise and action and henceforth include the questions of regional development, access to sustainable energy, public health, pollution and the fight against poverty. The latter should no longer be addressed from the economic viewpoint alone. Climate change has revealed another form of poverty related to environmental vulnerability and that will have to be examined using this interdisciplinary approach.

3At the programme level, research must be based on strengthened partnerships and on more effective tools and methods to make closer diagnoses and generate knowledge useful for both regional and local decision makers. The development of public research policies on low carbon technologies and the application of stricter regulations based on new norms and standards must accompany the efforts made in research on the climate process. The success of attempts at ‘decarbonisation’ will depend on this.

4The development of large interdisciplinary monitoring facilities is also recommended in the book. These are essential for improving the monitoring of the environment (climate, impacts on resources and societies, interactions between societies and the environment, etc.), to calibrate satellite facilities devoted to the environment, validate models and propose appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures. Furthermore, these monitoring facilities must also favour training via research of the new generations of teachers and researchers in countries in the south by using an integrative interdisciplinary approach. In health in particular, the setting up of fully-fledged, interdisciplinary watches monitored in the long term is becoming urgent as the accumulation of single-theme watches has shown its limits. These facilities should allow the better monitoring of populations and make it possible to understand how—beyond political and strategic choices—they can evolve according to local individual and collective behaviour, also covering situations in which they are subjected to the same constraints.

5Furthermore, the reliability of knowledge of the climate requires the improvement of models of climate and impacts, a reduction of uncertainty in climate projections and natural climate variability in relation to anthropic forcings, thus enabling better attribution of the changes observed. In modelling, improving decadal forecasting is an important objective for improving knowledge of climate patterns in the coming decades.

6Questions of scale are also determinant. Digital simulations, physical models of the climate and those in the fields of environment or health cannot be applied in the same way at the different scales of observation. The difficulties of diagnosis and interpretation and for transition from the global to regional or local scales have been highlighted in several chapters. The levels of scales and the organisation of living organisms, of the environment and of societies must be better integrated in models with the aim of showing the complexity of the phenomena involved in the question of the climate.

7Adaptation and resilience processes are also complex in their definition and even more so in the assessment of concrete effects or in the evaluation of their potential. Research on the adaptation of populations to climate change and on local know-how forms nonetheless an important source of knowledge that is still too little used. In the light of the regions and the populations concerned and conflicts in use between the various sectors of activity, the research conducted must generate information for decision makers and guide national adaptation plans to improve political responses. The use of regional orientations, national policies and global governance returns in a different way to the theme already mentioned of the hinging between levels of organisation but applied to institutions and governance in this case.

8By giving a greater role to national policies and by asking for ‘nationally determined contributions’, COP 21 is aimed at placing states back in the core of climate governance to set up international agreements according to the respective means available. Indeed, it is not possible to impose climate policies using scientific knowledge of the climate as the sole basis. Research must be reflexive and must question its own position in a geopolitical context in which the question of climate is handled as an economic weapon and crystallises North-South oppositions during international negotiations. The research conducted in the South on a cooperation basis must make it possible for the viewpoints of the partners to be heard—beyond the sharing of knowledge. It is a question of generating and spreading knowledge, of contributing to a long-term vision of the issues and to pass on a ‘culture of climate challenge’. But it is just as important to encourage the mobilisation of society in favour of public debate. Whether they are acceptable, in disagreement or utopian, the solutions for responding to the climate challenge can only come from societies themselves and from greater international solidarity.

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