Published: Feb. 5, 2018

On Thursday, Feb. 8, join the philosophy department's Center for Values and Social Policy for a Center Talk presented by Andrew Light, professor at George Mason University. The lecture is titled "Beyond Bifurcated Climate Responsibilities: Why the Paris Agreement Matters and How We Must Defend It."

Eiffel Tower in Paris illuminated green in celebration of Paris Agreement

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, is illuminated in green to celebrate the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history, on Nov. 4, 2016.

In December 2015, over 190 countries met in Paris and finally succeeded in creating a comprehensive and universal international agreement on climate change after 25 years of negotiations. Among its many virtues, the agreement finally moved beyond the strict bifurcation of responsibilities between developed and developing countries that had long hindered this process.

Nonetheless, some argue this doesn’t matter, as the cumulative climate commitments that parties brought to the table in Paris are ultimately too weak to achieve the agreements’ lofty aspirations. With the announcement of the intended withdraw of the United States, the agreement now is undergoing an early and serious stress test: Is Paris worth defending?

Light's talk will review the core arguments for and against Paris and look at what the future holds for global climate cooperation.

About the expert

Light is a university professor of philosophy, public policy and atmospheric sciences at George Mason University and Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute, in Washington, D.C.

If you go

Who: Open to the public
What: Center Talk: "Beyond Bifurcated Climate Responsibilities: Why the Paris Agreement Matters and How We Must Defend It."
When: Thursday, Feb. 8, 4:30–5:30 p.m.
Where: Hellems Arts and Sciences, room 199

From 2013 to 2016, he served as senior advisor and India counselor to the U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change and staff climate advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry in the Office of Policy Planning in the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, he served on the senior strategy team for the U.N. climate negotiations and director of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group for Combating Climate Change, among other duties.

In recognition of this work, Light was awarded the inaugural Public Philosophy Award from the International Society for Environmental Ethics in June 2017, which has been renamed the Andrew Light Award; the inaugural Alain Locke Award for Public Philosophy from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy in March 2016; and a Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State in July 2016 for his work creating and negotiating the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In his academic career, Light is the author of over 100 articles and book chapters, primarily on the normative dimensions of climate change, restoration ecology and urban sustainability and has authored, co-authored and edited 19 books, including Environmental Values (2008), Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (2003), Environmental Pragmatism (1996), and the forthcoming Ethics in the Anthropocene.