UA prof named to International Earth Commission studying climate and biodiversity
Dylan SmithTucson | Sentinel.com
Diana Liverman is an expert on climate vulnerability & sustainable development
A University of Arizona professor and top climate researcher, Diana Liverman, has been named one of 19 members of the Earth Commission, a new global group drafting potential responses to climate change and biodiversity challenges.
“My current research asks: How do we reduce the risk of climate change while also reaching the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals? For example, how do we raise people out of poverty in a way that doesn’t lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions or other negative resource impacts,” said Liverman, who is a UA regents’ professor and director of the School of Geography and Development.
“We’re looking for the triple win, which will lift people out of poverty in a climate-friendly and equitable way, which may involve those with greater environmental impacts – such as consumers in the U.S. – reducing their climate impacts,” she said in a news release from the university.
Liverman has studied the impact of drought on society, with a focus on how climate change affects agriculture and food systems, including fieldwork in Mexico on climate and the effects of NAFTA.
The Arizona professor was one of the lead authors of a prominent 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on limiting global temperature increases. That report was cited as one of the reasons to enact the Green New Deal in that proposed legislation.
Liverman is one of 19 top international experts selected for the commission, which is tasked with identifying global environmental risks and developing scientific targets that will guide responses to climate change, biodiversity and other global environmental challenges.
“I study the fate of the disadvantaged and disempowered in a changing climate – the poor, women, children, and other species – and more generally the political ecology of global environmental change,” her UA biography reads.
Liverman’s selection was announced Thursday morning by the international research organization Future Earth.
The 19 commissioners include leading scientists in both natural and social sciences from 13 countries, including Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The former co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the UA, Liverman has served on several international science committees, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the scientific advisory committees for several programs of the International Council for Science including the planning committee for Future Earth. She became director of the UA Geography and Development School in July. Born a British national, she studied at UCLA, among other universities, and has also worked at Oxford University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Penn State.
Liverman has collaborated with several other Earth Commission members, including as co-author of an influential paper on “Planetary Boundaries” in 2009 and in the international Earth System Governance project.
The Earth Commission is set to immediately being work — and complete by 2021 — a “high-level synthesis of scientific knowledge on the biophysical processes that regulate Earth’s stability and will identify targets to ensure this stability. The commission will also explore social transformations required for sustainable development to reach these targets in a way that could be tailored to cities and companies.”
“I don’t think we can solve these problems unless we work not only with government and citizens but also with the private sector,” Liverman said.