From the smallest islands to the highest peaks – oceans, ice and climate change

26 Sept 2019
09:00 - 11:00
Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016
Following closely the release of the IPCC special report on oceans and ice, this event during Climate Week NYC will outline its main findings and - together with representatives of Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries - discuss the implications for vulnerable countries.

From the smallest islands to the highest peaks – oceans, ice and climate change

A major assessment of the latest science on how climate change impacts oceans and the cryosphere – portions of Earth’s surface where water is frozen, including sea ice, snow cover and glaciers – is due on 25 September 2019. This latest special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is of great importance to some of the world’s most vulnerable countries – like small island states and the least developed countries.

For small islands, the report is highly relevant as it covers issues from sea level rise to impacts on coral reefs fisheries to extreme events such as storm surges. Many least developed countries will also face severe impacts to their coastlines, as sea levels rise, while melting glaciers spell disaster for millions of inhabitants of mountainous countries.

As detailed by the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C, half a degree of warming has significant implications for the most vulnerable and there is a need for rapid, widespread and transformative action to limit global temperatures. This latest report from the IPCC provides further information on implications of climate change for the many regions and ecosystems that are affected by changes to oceans and the cryosphere, and provides further scientific support for ambitious mitigation and adaptation to reduce these impacts.

Following closely the release of this major report, this event will outline its main findings and their implications for vulnerable countries. It will also discuss how the report’s findings can be incorporated into the on-going international climate negotiations, including the issue of climate change-induced loss and damage, and raising climate ambition.

Moderation: Kristian Teleki, Director, Sustainable Oceans Initiative, WRI


8:30 – Registration/light breakfast
9:00 – Welcome remarks – Laetitia De Marez, Director of Climate Analytics New York office
9:10 – Key findings from the report: focus on SIDS and LDCs – Dr Adelle Thomas, Senior Caribbean Research Associate, Climate Analytics
9: 25 – What does the special report on oceans and ice mean for mitigation? – Dr Michiel Schaeffer, Science Director, Climate Analytics
9:40– Q&A
9:55 – Panel discussion: Implications of the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and the Croyosphere for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries & raising climate ambition
10:30 – Q&A
10:45 – Close of event


H. E. Mrs. Janine Coye-Felson
H.E. Mrs. Coye-Felson is Lead Negotiator for AOSIS, which is currently lead by Belize. She is a senior diplomat in the Belize Foreign Service with a wide range of experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. She is Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of Belize to the United Nations in New York.

Recently she has served as lead negotiator for the Caribbean Community on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and continues to serve as lead finance coordinator for the Alliance of Small Island States in the multilateral climate change negotiation process.

AOSIS is a coalition of 44 small island and low-lying coastal developing states. As a voice for the vulnerable, its mandate is more than amplifying marginalised voices as it also advocates for these countries’ interests. In terms of size, AOSIS closely resembles the countries it represents on the global stage, but often punches far above its weight, negotiating historic global commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, among other achievements.

Mr. Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi
Mr. Wangdi is the Secretary of the National Environment Commission of the Kingdom of Bhutan. He is also the current chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group on Climate Change. Through this position, he works to advance the group’s goal of encouraging carbon emissions reductions and increased climate financing, and ensuring the most vulnerable countries and communities are protected.

The LDC Group is made up of the 47 poorest countries in the world, which contribute the least to climate change, yet disproportionately suffer from its ever-increasing impacts. LDCs represent over one billion people throughout Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean. The group works at the UN climate change negotiations to secure fair and ambitious action to fight climate change.

Prof. Michael Oppenheimer
Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is also the Director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. Oppenheimer is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He now serves as a coordinating lead author on IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans, Cryosphere and Climate Change.

Oppenheimer is coeditor-in-chief of the journal Climatic Change. He serves on the New York City Panel on Climate Change and is a science advisor to the Environmental Defense Fund. Oppenheimer is a Heinz Award winner and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research focuses on sea level rise, migration, and other impacts of climate change from the perspectives of science, adaptation, and risk. Oppenheimer has an SB degree from MIT in chemistry and a PhD from the University of Chicago in chemical physics. He joined the Princeton faculty in 2002 after more than two decades with the Environmental Defense Fund, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program. Earlier, he was an Atomic and Molecular Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.


This event is part of Climate Week NYC, organised by the Climate Group. It takes place from September 23 to 29, 2019. Run in coordination with the UN and the City of New York, Climate Week continues to grow as the time and place for the world to showcase climate action and discuss how to do more. Businesses, governments, academic institutions, arts organizations, individuals and non- profit organisations participate in the week-long events program including panel discussions concerts, exhibitions, seminars and more.