The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an important legacy of the so-called “Earth Summit” that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The major aim of the UNFCCC is to facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (primarily, but not exclusively, carbon dioxide) through effective mitigation actions by the countries signing up to the convention. However, it was not before the signing of the Kyoto Protocol on December 11, 1997 that concrete and binding emission reduction targets were agreed by the signatories of the Convention and the Protocol, i.e., the Parties to the Convention. Ever since, these signatories meet at regular intervals at Conferences of the Parties (COP) at different locations around the globe. The COPs are meant to take stock of the progress towards reaching the agreed upon reduction targets and to discuss and decide on measures to advance the ultimate goals of the UNFCCC and to stabilize if not reduce global warming.
This year’s COP24 took place in Katowice, Poland from November 26 to December 14, 2018. It is a good tradition of the COPs to organize and facilitate a number of side events that shed light on various issues related to the overall goals of the UNFCCC. One of the side events of the COP24 was organized by the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean under the heading: A science-policy interface on risks of climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean region (MedECC). MedECC stands for Mediterranean Experts on Climate and environmental Change and includes more than 400 scientists from 35 countries. MedECC aims to assess the extent and magnitude of current and future environmental and climatic changes and their impacts on human communities and ecosystems in the Mediterranean Basin and to provide the scientific basis for political decision makers on measures to minimize adverse effects of such changes (www.medecc.org). The Cyprus Institute has been involved in MedECC since its inception in 2015 and has specifically delivered insights and perspective on climate change in Eastern Mediterranean countries. The Cyprus Institute has also been functioning as the Future Earth MENA (Middle East & North Africa) Regional Center, and serves as the Regional Node for two of the Future Earth Global Research Projects: the Global Land Project and the Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study.
During the side event at the COP24, Prof. Manfred Lange addressed this very topic through a presentation on Mediterranean Climate Change: The EMME Perspective (EMME = Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East). After providing a brief summary of major characteristics and challenges of the EMME Region, he particularly stressed the Cyprus Institute’s attempts to engage in initiatives with a regional focus and emerging regional centers for Climate Change research and sustainability. Such initiatives enable a refinement of the scientific basis for climate and environmental challenges in the region and facilitate an effective interface between science and policy making. A particular highlight in that regard that was briefly described in Prof. Lange’s presentation was the International Conference on Climate Change in the Mediterranean and the Middle East: Challenges & Solutions that took place in Nicosia, Cyprus last May (http://www.climatechange2018.org/). The most successful conference was followed by the announcement of a National and Regional Climate Change Initiative by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, which is to be scientifically led by the Cyprus Institute.