Climate Change: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters

Professor Christopher B. Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology.

A Sydney Law School 2013 Distinguished Speaker Lecture


To coincide with the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report, climate scientist Professor Chris Field from Stanford University will be delivering a Sydney Law School 2013 Distinguished Speaker address, co-presented by Sydney Ideas.

Historically, risks from climate-related events are concentrated in extreme events. In its 2012 Special Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that "A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events." Existing data indicate increases over the last 50 years in several kinds of climate extremes. Climate models project continuing changes in these extremes. There is a wide range of opportunities for reducing disaster risk and improving disaster response. The most effective options tend to produce both immediate benefits in sustainable development and long-term benefits in reduced vulnerability. Some options may require transformation, including questioning assumptions and paradigms, and stimulating innovation. For the future, the recognition that climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable development are all aspects of the same grand challenge can open a wide range of important opportunities.

Professor Chris Field


Professor Chris Field is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology. Professor Field's research emphasises impacts of climate change, from the molecular to the global scale. He is deeply involved with national and international scale efforts to advance science and assessment related to global ecology and climate change, especially the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where he is co-chairs the working group responsible for assessments of climate-change Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Professor Field's recognitions include the Heinz Award, the Max Plank Research Award, and election to the US National Academy of Sciences.

Chair: Professor Rosemary Lyster, Professor of Climate and Environmental Law and Director, Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law

Commentator: Professor Lesley Hughes, Macquarie University, member of the Climate Council and an IPCC Working Group II (Australasia) Lead Author

Lawyers/barristers: attendance at this seminar is equal to 1 MCLE/CPD unit.