Abstract: Over decades, assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and many others has bolstered understanding of the climate problem: unequivocal warming, pervasive impacts, and serious risks from continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases. Societies are increasingly responding with early actions to decarbonize energy systems and prepare for impacts. In this emerging era of climate solutions, new assessment opportunities arise. They include learning from ongoing real-world experiences and helping close the gap between aspirations and the pace of progress. Against this backdrop, I will consider core challenges in assessment, in particular: (1) integrating diverse evidence; (2) applying rigorous expert judgment; and (3) deeply embedding interactions between experts and decision-makers. Examples span climate risks and portfolios of mitigation and adaptation responses. For climate and broader global change, the presentation will explore how transparent, high-traction assessment can support decisions about contested and uncertain futures.
About the Speaker: Katharine Mach is a Senior Research Scientist at Stanford University, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and a Visiting Investigator at the Carnegie Institution for Science. She leads the Stanford Environment Assessment Facility (SEAF). From 2010 until 2015, Mach co-directed the scientific activities of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which focuses on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. This work culminated in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. Mach received her PhD from Stanford University and AB from Harvard College.