‘Science and Climate Negotiations’: Climate Talk with Dr. Fahad Saeed at UIII

May 16, 2024

Contributor: Supriyono

UIII, DEPOK – The Faculty of Social Sciences at Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII) hosted a climate talk on May 15, 2024, featuring Dr. Fahad Saeed, a climate scientist at Climate Analytics, who enlightened the audience with an exposition on ‘science and climate negotiations,’ focusing specifically on the least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Global South.

Dr. Fahad Saeed is a visiting professor at UIII’s Master of Public Policy specializing in Climate Change. He currently works as a climate scientist at Climate Analytics in Germany and the Weather and Climate Services in Pakistan. 

Held in the Teleconference Room at Faculty B, Dr. Saeed engaged the audience in a thought-provoking conversation. He commenced his presentation with early scientific work related to climate science, noting that studies on the greenhouse effect date back to the works of John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius in the 19th century. 

Tyndall’s work involved the first convincing experiments on the radiative properties of gases, demonstrating that “perfectly colorless and invisible gases and vapors” could absorb and emit radiant energy. Meanwhile, Arrhenius demonstrated that variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration could significantly affect the overall heat budget and surface temperature of the planet. 

Delving further into the current state of the climate, Dr. Saeed explained that there have been widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere, indicating significant risks and impacts. 

Dr. Saeed emphasized that the “widespread and rapid” changes reflect improved data and reconstructions of past climates in terms of geographical coverage and temporal resolution. However, he also warned of the potential consequences, indicating that the extensive body of research requires standardization and re-analysis. 

“The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years,” he elaborated. 

He then explained the importance of scientific methodology in examining climate change by highlighting the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is a United Nations body that assesses the science related to climate change to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments about it, the implications, and potential future risks. 

The IPCC, he said, is the primary source of scientific input into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), highlighting that the principles governing the IPCC’s work include being scientific, objective, and neutral with respect to policy. 

“The advantage over the literature is that the reports are approved by the government, [including] approval of summary report line by line by the governments,” he noted, adding that this aligns with the scientific principle of the UNFCCC that it has to be based on the “best available science.” 

Central to the discussion, Dr. Saeed argued that countries in LDCs and SIDS need support in the IPCC and UNFCCC processes due to the complexity of the issues, the need for technical expertise, the preparation of national reports, the implementation of climate policies, and access to climate finance. 

“[Hence], CA scientists try to ensure that SIDS and LDCs voices are reflected in the IPCC products and that the delegations can adequately draw from the latest IPCC and more recent climate science during the UNFCCC sessions,” Dr. Saeed concluded. 

The climate talk with Dr. Fahad Saeed enlightened the students from UIII’s Master of Public Policy specializing in Climate Change, as well as the other students from different departments attending the event, about the importance of science in understanding climate change and shaping effective policies.