Key outcomes from the 2015 Paris Climate Summit – and implications for 2016 climate research and policy priorities

Key outcomes from the 2015 Paris Climate Summit – and implications for 2016 climate research and policy priorities

Tuesday, 23 February 2016 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Speakers: The discussion will be introduced by short presentations from four members of the University of Melbourne delegation to the Paris Climate Summit: Peter Christoff, Robyn Eckersley, Cathy Alexander and Don Henry. We have arranged for a longer than usual, 90 minutes timeframe to allow time for a broad conversation about future climate research and policy priorities

Event Location: 
Rm 448, Level 4, Melbourne School of Design
Masson Road University of Melbourne
Robyn Eckersley

Robyn Eckersley was educated at the University of Western Australia, Cambridge University (UK) and the University of Tasmania, and taught political science at Monash University from 1992-2001 before joining the University of Melbourne in 2002. She has published widely in the fields of environmental politics, political theory and international relations, with a special focus on the ethics and governance of climate change, including in journals such as Political Studies, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, Ethics and International Affairs and Global Environmental Politics. Her book The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (2004) won the Melbourne Woodward Medal in 2005 for the best research in Humanities and Social Sciences and was runner up in the International Studies Association’s Sprout Award for 2005 for the best book on Environmental Studies. She was a Visiting Professor at the Research Center for Global Welfare, The Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Chiba University in Japan in 2008, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, from August 2009 to January 2010; and served as Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo, November 2010 to January 2011. She was elected as Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 2007. She as also served as Chair of the Organising Committee of the Sixth Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS VI), held at the University of Melbourne on 9-11 July 2014; Chair of the Oceanic Conference on International Studies Transition Committee and Co-convenor/Treasurer of the Australian Political Studies Association Environmental Policy and Politics Research Standing Group. She has served as Director of the Master of International Relations Program 2011-2012 and Chair of the Discipline of Political Science from 2008-2010, 2014 and second semester 2015.

Dr Peter Christoff teaches and researches climate politics and policy in the Department of Resource Management and Geography. He is a member of the Victorian Ministerial Reference Council on Climate Change Adaptation, and member of the Board of the Australian Conservation Foundation. He was formerly a member of the (Victoria) Premier's Climate Change Reference Group, the Vice President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, and the Assistant Commissioner for the Environment (Victoria).

The University of Melbourne

Don Henry was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1998 until he stepped down in March this year. Prior to heading the ACF, Don was Director of the Global Forests Program, World Wildlife Fund, working with the World Bank to conserve 250 million hectares of the world’s forest. His campaigning for the protection of the environment began in the 1980s in Queensland. More recently he has advocated to optimize the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and he played a key role in brokering the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

In his work at the University, Don will draw upon his extensive experience with environmental policy in order to write on the effectiveness of collaborations across society. His focus will be on climate action and durable policy reform in the Asia-Pacific region. He is in fact an International Board member of Al Gore’s ‘Climate Reality Project’. Don will also continue his interest in environmental issues facing Northern Australia.

As Public Policy Fellow, Don will be a linchpin between grassroots and sectoral stakeholders and the research community, enabling the mutual transfer of knowledge. He will engage in public debate, collaborate with academics and meet with students. His role will include fostering partnerships with the University.              

Cathy Alexander has eight years’ experience as a political journalist in Australia. For most of this time she covered environmental policy and politics, with a major focus on climate change. She worked from the press gallery in Parliament House, Canberra, for three years with Australian Associated Press (2007-2010). More recently she was deputy editor of the website Crikey, where she continued to write on the environment and climate change. Cathy has also worked for a federal Coalition shadow cabinet member. Cathy has a first-class Honours degree in Politics and History from the University of Tasmania, a Certificat d’Etudes Politiques from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Aix-en-Provence (France), a Master of Environment from the University of Melbourne, and is now studying a PhD with the College. Her topic area is the politics and policy of climate change in Australia. She speaks French and a little German. Cathy works part-time with the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute.

PhD Project: The policy and politics of climate change in Australia

Cathy is exploring the politics and policy of climate change in Australia. She will ask how to make controversial policies stick in Australia. To operationalise this, she is planning a comparative study of the Carbon Price Mechanism (CPM, also called the carbon tax) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Both were substantial, controversial policy instruments which faced significant opposition. But while the GST proved a ‘sticky’ policy – that is, it survived, is now embedded and may be extended - the CPM was closed down within two years. Cathy will analyse the contexts around both policies, the nature of the policies themselves, and finally the dominant strategies that the respective governments used in relation to each policy. She will seek to identify what it was about the Gillard Labor government’s strategic armoury which contributed to policy failure. 

In her conclusion, Cathy will seek to draw possible lessons about how to make tricky policy ‘stick’, which may be of assistance to future policy-makers who are seeking to implement ‘sticky’ policies on climate change. Building on the work of Alan McConnell on policy success, and on his framework which matches particular strategies with particular contextual factors, Cathy will seek to modify this framework for the Australian context, while expanding on his treatment of ‘alliance-building’.

Supervisor: Prof. Robyn Eckersley

Start Date: December 2014


Additional Information


Web tools and Projects we developed

  • Open-NEM

    The live tracker of the Australian electricity market.

  • Paris Equity Check

    This website is based on a Nature Climate Change study that compares Nationally Determined Contributions with equitable national emissions trajectories in line with the five categories of equity outlined by the IPCC.

  • liveMAGICC Climate Model

    Run one of the most popular reduced-complexity climate carbon cycle models online. Used by IPCC, UNEP GAP reports and numerous scientific publications.

  • NDC & INDC Factsheets

    Check out our analysis of all the post-2020 targets that countries announced under the Paris Agreement.