King’s Climate Hub scholars Dr Daniel Schillereff and Dr James Porter joined us at the Pint of Science Festival Our Society at The Britannia, Kensington on 15 May to talk about their research on climate change, joined by Dr Katrien Steenmans, a close colleague from the King’s Climate Law and Governance Centre at the Dickson Poon School of Law.
Here are three things we learnt that evening…
You can learn about historic flood events in beer gardens around the country
Daniel started the night with his talk on extreme flood events and the challenges of attributing these events to climate change. Policymakers and the general public often want to know whether climate change is making floods worse, but Daniel explained to us that due to limited data, coarse scale and uncertainty in flood modelling and monitoring, there is no straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to that question. Daniel also walked us through the wide ranging toolkit that could help us fill the knowledge gaps, from measuring flow at river gauges and observing soil cores to analysing old diaries and data logs. Out of all the methods of modelling floods, however, it is safe to say that we enjoyed discovering flood plaques in pubs dotted around the country the most.
There’s important difference between useful, usable and used climate change information
Deploying a very relatable analogy of our ability (or inability!) to replicate Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meal recipes, James explained to us what scientists deemed ‘useful’ science for public policy – just as Jamie would deem we could make a lamb tagine in 15 minutes – may not necessarily be be ‘usable’, i.e. we either don’t fancy a lamb tagine or it’s not possible make it in 15 minutes. Even if the science is ‘usable’, for an array of administrative and political reasons, it might not necessarily be ‘used’. James’s talk has shed light on the multitude of challenges and barriers in climate policy making, but ultimately he invited us to reflect on whether climate science should altogether be ‘consumed’ like food.
Climate change is expensive, but we’re not sure how much it costs and who’s going to foot the bill
Katrien explained to us that depending on the model, climate change has been estimated to cost up to USD 90 trillion, whilst developed countries have only committed USD 100 billion per annum until 2025. A range of tools have been employed by different players, but it’s still challenging to track exactly how much is spent and on what types of climate change action. Climate finance is perhaps one of the fastest moving spaces in climate change action to watch, and at the same time it requires a high level of innovation and critical thinking to ensure it brings effective and beneficial results!
The evening ended with lively discussions with the audience, engaging in a truly interdisciplinary discourse on how to approach climate change from physical science, social science and legal perspectives.