Panel at Avo’s will discuss 2015 Paris Climate Conference

Julia Rentsch

Image courtesy of SoGES.

An interdisciplinary panel discussion consisting of Colorado State University faculty members will be held at Avogadro’s Number from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday preceding a United Nations conference on climate change.

The 21st session of the Conference of Parties, known as COP 21 or the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will be held in Paris, France at the beginning of December. Six faculty delegates from CSU will attend, including panelist Peter Backlund.


The event, which is sponsored by the School of Global Environmental Sustainability as a part of their Managing the Planet panel series, will try to answer the climate change policy question: “Can the world agree?”

“It’s less a scientific question than a political one,” said Keith Paustian, a professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, a panelist and an attendee of previous COPs. “Because I think the science of how greenhouse gases influence… the climate, that’s very solid and agreed-upon among scientists.”

Panelists will discuss the possible outcomes of the Paris Climate Talks for the United States and the world at large, providing insight into how these conferences work from past experience and research.

“It would be great if they could (agree),” said Joe von Fischer, an associate professor in the Department of Biology. “One of the things that worries me is the rising nationalism of China and Russia, and their moving away from cooperative efforts. But if reducing (carbon dioxide) emissions is good for them, we might get a fortuitous agreement.”

The discussion will be moderated by Gene Kelly, SoGES Associate Director of Research and Development. The panelists will be:

  • Michele Betsill, Department of Political Science
  • Peter Backlund, School of Global Environmental Sustainability
  • Joe von Fischer, Department of Biology
  • Keith Paustian, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences

The goal of the panel is to “discuss the possible outcomes of the Paris Climate Talks for the United States and the world at large, while also providing insight into how these conferences work from past experience and research,” according to SoGES.

Paustian emphasized the importance of this conference to the UN’s effort to develop concrete and long-lasting climate policy.

“It’s important now for there to be some movement on the policy front… because there’s not really time to waste and there’s pretty convincing evidence that the longer we wait the harder it’ll be to turn the ship around.”

Collegian Sustainability Reporter Julia Rentsch can be reached online at or on Twitter at @julia_rentsch.