MIT visit by Janos Pasztor

February 29 to March 5, 2016

Janos Pasztor is currently Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change. A national of Hungary (and later also of Switzerland), he received his MS and BS degrees at MIT. During the last 35 years, he has worked for various UN as well as non-governmental organizations on issues of energy and environment, and over time increasingly on climate change. His assignments included work with the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Commission on Environment and Development (the WCED or “Brundtland Commission”), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the secretariat of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or the “Earth Summit”), the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Environment Management Group - EMG. He first joined the office of the UN Secretary-General (EOSG) in 2008 as Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team. During 2012-2014 he worked at WWF International, and in January 2015 he returned to EOSG as Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change – a position he filled until 31 January 2016.

February 29, 4:45 pm
A Decisive Step Forward - assessment of the Paris climate change agreement and implications
MIT Energy Initiative
Stata Student Center, Room 32-123

While considering the overall context in which the 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change took place in Paris, Janos Pasztor, Senior Adviser to the UN Secretary-General, will look at the main outcomes and their implications on the overarching goal of keeping average global warming well below 2 degrees C, while moving toward increased resilience to climate change. Pasztor, who at the time of the Paris Conference was directly assisting the UN Secretary-General in all his climate-change-related activities, will also address the role of the UN Secretary-General in the preparations and the final negotiations.

March 1, 2 - 3:30 pm
Why did the Paris climate change negotiations succeed?
Center for International Studies

The success of the climate change conference in Paris in December 2015 has been widely recognized. But why has it succeeded? What were some of the factors that contributed to success? Janos Pasztor, who at that time was UN Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change, and supporting directly the UN Secretary-General will address some of the reasons why the Paris Agreement can be considered to be a decisive step forward, including some of the specific contributions made by the UN Secretary-General in this regard.

March 2, 3:30 - 4:30 pm
The "Action Agenda"
MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

The UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015 was the first meeting of the Parties that was referred to as an “Action COP”. The reason is that climate action was thoroughly integrated into the programme of the entire COP. Special days were devoted to sectoral topics like energy, agriculture or cities, amongst others. A high-level Action Day included President Francois Hollande and the UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon calling on non-state actors, as well as governments to accelerate partnerships and increase climate action on the ground to move in a “virtuous circle” where demonstration of action on the ground will encourage negotiators for more ambition, and where ambitious agreements will encourage even more climate action on the ground. At Paris we saw for the first time the workings of the “virtuous circle”. This presentation would explore the background; the actual events at Paris; and the potential future for the so-called Action Agenda

March 3, 12 - 1 pm
Climate Finance
Center for Finance and Policy

Much of the debate during the climate negotiations focused on the commitment by Developed Countries to provide to Developing Countries by 2020 US$100 billion per annum in assistance for climate action. This political commitment had to be met, and then maintained. Progress has been made, but there is still a way to go. While the availability of the $100 billion for small island and least developed states is crucial, for the world to shift to low-emissions and resilient economies, not billions, but trillions are needed. Such amounts can only come through the private sector. This presentation will explore how efforts that are being made in the public as well as private spheres to mobilize the required resources. Special efforts of the UN Secretary-General in this area will also be addressed.

March 4, 12:15 - 1:45 pm
The UNFCCC process in the 21st Century
Center for Collective Intelligence

After the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in 2009 many observers commented that the UN could no longer be the place where solutions will be found for climate change. Many referred to the end of effective multilateralism and the irrelevance of the UNFCCC. After the success of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, many referred to the success of multilateralism. So where are we on these issues? This presentation would explore some of the facts, and start asking the key questions that need to be asked to find answers. The presentation would also address some of the challenges facing the UNFCCC process as the world moves toward the implementation of the Paris Agreement.