LSE - Small Logo
LSE - Small Logo

Dipa Patel20

February 12th, 2020

From Negotiation to Action: The science and politics of climate change

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Dipa Patel20

February 12th, 2020

From Negotiation to Action: The science and politics of climate change

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

MSc Development Management student, Michelle Nazareth, reflects on a Cutting Edge Issues in Development guest lecture from Saleemul Huq, Senior Fellow in the Climate Change Group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, and, the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, about the science and politics of climate change.

Saleemul Huq speaking to students at LSE on the science and politics of climate change. Photo credit: LSE ID

The last lecture in the cutting- edge series appropriately tackled one of the most relevant issues of our times: climate change. As an expert on climate change negotiations and adaptation from the perspective of least developed countries, Saleemul Huq was able to give us insights into the LDC’s response to the challenge of global warming and the action taken so far. Huq’s lecture was a frank yet optimistic take on the possibilities of the global response to climate change in a world that is becoming increasingly politically divided. The focus was on the science behind the three eras and the current state of climate policy.

The first era began with the publication of the first assessment report in 1990 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report highlighted the concern among scientists about the problem of climate change and its possible exacerbation in the absence of global efforts. Hence, the first phase was very much focused on mitigation or the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The third Conference of Parties (COP) at Kyoto in Japan (1997) was hailed as a milestone in this attempt because it laid down the specific targets that developed countries had agreed on to reduce their emissions. Interestingly, the United States never ratified this agreement either!

The second era that Huq spoke about was one with a new focus on adaptation. Realizing that countries had failed to reduce emissions sufficiently and that there would be certain unavoidable impacts of climate change, the importance of adapting to the inevitable gained attention. However, the challenge (which has not yet been overcome) is the fact that not everyone is affected equally and the poorest and the most vulnerable groups who are being affected have very little bargaining power at the major climate meetings.  Ironically, these are also all countries that have contributed the least to climate change in terms of historical emissions. The second era saw many new actors joining in the global fight against climate change including aid agencies such as USAID and DFID as well as local actors in developing countries.

Finally, the last decade has seen the emergence of a new and fundamentally different era, where the world is actually seeing the impacts of global warming. The increasing numbers of wildfires, rising sea levels and intense heat waves have made it difficult to deny the problem of climate change. The new era has been defined by the participation of a much wider group of people, especially young people who have understood the issue as one of social justice. Our failure to deal effectively with the problem has resulted in loss and damage from climate change- a term used to signify the impacts that global warming is having on developing countries. Given this widespread awareness, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of climate change policy. However, Huq stressed that there is a pressing need to move from negotiation to action, through climate meetings like the COP. In addition, giving least developed countries a huge say in this process can ensure that the impact of climate change is not felt so severely in the most vulnerable regions of the planet.

Saleemul Huq’s lecture was also very practical based, with numerous examples of efforts to improve the adaptive capacity of people including Bangladesh’s pioneering efforts and an international proposal for a carbon tax included in the price of airline tickets. But Huq’s speech was above all inspirational- an encouraging and motivating approach to one of the most serious problems of collective action that the world has ever faced.


Michelle Nazareth is an MSc Development Management student from India. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Psychology and Economics from Christ University, Bangalore. Her research interests include adaptation and climate change, urban planning and the informal sector.

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and in no way reflect those of the International Development LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.

About the author

Dipa Patel20

Posted In: Climate Emergency | Events | Featured | Student Experience

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RSS Justice and Security Research Programme

  • JSRP and the future
    The JSRP drew to a close in 2017 but many of the researchers and partners involved in the programme continue to work on the issues and theories developed during the lifetime of the programme. Tim Allen now directs the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (FLCA) at LSE where many of the JSRP research team working […]
  • Life after the LRA
    The JSRP reached the end of its grant in spring 2017 but several outputs from the programme are scheduled for publication in the coming months. The most recent of these is a new journal article from Holly Porter and Letha Victor drawing on their extensive research with JSRP in the Acholi region of northern Uganda.  The […]

RSS LSE’s engagement with South Asia

  • Skewed Normatives in India’s Judicial Discourse on Rape
    India has relatively strong legal frameworks in place to promote gender equality. However, the achievement of justice and equality for women in their everyday lives remains an elusive goal. Medha Garg analyses some judicial pronouncements from cases involving rape to argue that the judiciary itself often displays patriarchal attitudes that indirectly reinforce sexist and misogynistic […]
  • South Asia: A Frontier for Sustainability on a Dying Planet
    How can South Asia contribute to Global Development? Elias Khoury — winner of the LSE South Asia Centre Vera Anstey Essay Competition 2022 — argues that the rest of the world, and especially countries of the Global North, should learn development strategies from South Asia which has pursued sustainable models despite challenges and problems, and achieved success.  […]