North Carolina time: 19 October, 2021, 8:00-9:30 pm; Singapore time: 20 October, 2021, 8:00-9:30am
Viewed alongside other world regions, Southeast Asia is uniquely vulnerable to major damage by global warming. Its coastlines are lengthy and subject to searise. Its urban centers of economic and political gravity are mainly riverine or deltaic. Its agriculture requires optimal levels and rhythms of waterflow, as do its polluted main veins, the Mekong and the Irrawaddy. In already tropical conditions, heatwaves are especially enervating. Nor has the region escaped extreme weather events. The ten most afflicted countries worldwide in that regard include Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. With this background in mind, Angel Hsu and Melissa Low, two scholars with deep regional and policy knowledge will consider questions such as: What has been and is being done, by whom, and with what chances of success? Can currently worsening trends be reversed? Mitigated? Or is adaptation the sole plausible recourse? Who will represent the interests of the unborn generations who will suffer the long-term consequences of present-day indifference and delay? Will effective policy require authoritarian politics? Given that the largest current and historical emitters of greenhouse gases are, respectively, China and the US, what roles should and will they play? And how, if at all, will global versions of these questions be addressed and answered in November in Glasgow at COP26?
Angel Hsu founded and heads the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Data-Driven EnviroLab, an interdisciplinary research group that innovates quantitative approaches to pressing environmental issues. Her research into the causes and consequences of climate change explores the interfacing of science and policy. Her many publications include coverage of Malaysia, Viet Nam, and especially China. In February 2021 she spoke on global climate trends before the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, having addressed US-China climate relations at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. Illustrating Prof. Hsu’s commitment to public outreach was her selection as a TED 2018 Age of Amazement Speaker and earlier as an inaugural member of the Grist 50, an annual list of “emerging leaders” working on “fresh, real-world solutions” to the world’s “biggest challenges,” global warming included. She holds a PhD in Environmental Policy from Yale University.
Melissa Low has published, presented, and advised on climate change in multiple forums. She is currently researching the relative transparency of climate action and reporting in Southeast Asia. She provides policy analyses and conducts workshops to improve understanding of the Paris Agreement and track whether countries are keeping their promises. For that work, in 2021, she received Singapore’s EcoFriend Award and its Public Service Medal. Having taken part in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties for many years, she is now on the steering committee that coordinates NGOs under the UNFCCC. She holds a University of Strathclyde LLM (with distinction) in Climate Change Law and Policy and an MSc in Environmental Management at the National University of Singapore, where is pursuing a PhD in geography. Her master’s thesis on the run-up to the Paris Agreement won NUS’s Shell Best Dissertation Award.
This event is part of the 2021 Fall webinar series, Perfect Storm: Climate Change in Asia, sponsored by the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.