A CNRS delegation present at the COP 28 on the climate


Alongside the main negotiations between Member States at the Conferences of the Parties (COP), numerous other events and round tables focusing on the climate also take place. The CNRS has sent an official delegation led by its Chairman and CEO Antoine Petit. The delegation will be sharing the organisation's knowledge of the issues involved and also emerging solutions devised by its laboratories and scientists.

As it has each year since 2015, the CNRS is sending a delegation to the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) from November 30th to December 12th in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "This COP is all the more important because it is the first worldwide evaluation of the different actions taken by governments to achieve the objectives set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change (French link), namely to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions", points out Agathe Euzen, deputy director of CNRS Ecology & Environment. "To effectively respond to this challenge and achieve the Agreement's long-term mitigation, adaptation and funding objectives, we particularly need to bolster each State's ambitions in favour of carbon neutrality, accelerating the rollout of renewable energies and gradually phasing out fossil fuels ".

Existing disparities between countries in the North and South (French link) mean the question of compensation for losses and damage caused by climate change is particularly sensitive. The COP 28's participants hope to come to a consensus on this matter in the current world context with each country facing its own challenges. This follows on from several preceding COPs at which the issue was on the negotiating table but unfortunately without a successful outcome. There will also be an update on the current state of play as regards the energy transition and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking for science at the COP 28

Antoine Petit will be heading a CNRS delegation that also includes Arnaud Lalo, operations director to the CNRS's Deputy CEO for Science, Jean-Pierre Gattuso, a research professor at the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche1 , Joachim Claudet, a CNRS research professor at the Centre de recherche insulaire et observatoire de l'environnement2 and Ocean Advisor at the CNRS, and Agathe Euzen. Various other members of the CNRS outside the official delegation may also be attending the COP 28 to represent associations or independent research programmes.

"Science needs to make itself heard during negotiations and it must enlighten decision-makers", states Joachim Claudet who studies the sustainability of coastal and marine socio-ecological systems. "Researchers don't wait for the COPs to work on the issues involved but the conferences are crucial for bringing knowledge deriving from laboratories and work in the field to the world political arena".

This year, the CNRS will have a particularly significant presence in the pavilion dedicated to the ocean where the Rising Ocean day co-hosted by France and Costa Rica will take place. In particular, work at this day will pave the way for the next United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC), scheduled to take place on June 3rd 2025 in Nice.

The Rising Ocean event will be attended by Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, French Ambassador for the Poles and Maritime Issues and special envoy of the French President to the UNOC, and Catherine Colonna, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Antoine Petit, Jean-Pierre Gattuso and Françoise Gaill, the President of the International Panel for Ocean Sustainability (IPOS)3 , will be among those taking part in the One Ocean Science Congress – 'Filling the Knowledge Gap' round table.

  • 1CNRS/Sorbonne Université.
  • 2CNRS/EPHE - PSL/Université de Perpignan Via Domitia.
  • 3IPOS is dedicated to the sustainability of the world's oceans as a whole, taking all stakeholders into account. Its aim is to promote better coordination of the scientific community on the subject of the ocean.
A discussion at the 2022 United Nations Conference on the Oceans in Lisbon on 'Increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology
A discussion at the 2022 United Nations Conference on the Oceans in Lisbon on 'Increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology© UN Photo/Gonçalo Borges Dias

The CNRS at the Ocean Pavilion

Antoine Petit will also be taking part in another event to be organised by the CNRS in partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in the United States, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, the São Paulo Research Foundation in Brazil and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This event is devoted to discussion of the use of scientific data to provide optimum support for global environmental policy discussions, how to integrate different disciplines into the IPOS, the development of a digital twin of the ocean (French link) and effectively fostering synergies in research funding.

"The research community needs to be present at these international events to help ensure that scientific results are given greater consideration in negotiations and the decision-making process", explains Agathe Euzen who will be speaking at the COP 28's Science Pavilion. "The work of many CNRS researchers contributes to synthesis reports that help us understand climate change like reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)". Indeed, research carried out in CNRS laboratories mean the organisation is actually the world's leading contributor to the IPCC's reports.

"We intend to show it's possible to organise large-scale scientific projects better on the global scale", explains Joachim Claudet. "Efforts to achieve this will enhance researchers' influence on international funding and also improve the scientific information provided for political negotiations (French link). I'm obviously thinking of the COP 28 but also of cases like the first international treaty to protect the high seas (French link) that was signed this year. The ocean is an increasingly significant subject at the COPs and in discussions. In recent years, understanding the ocean's role in climate change (French link) and in adapting to it have increased in importance.

CNRS scientists model the ocean to understand it better.
CNRS scientists model the ocean to understand it better.©CNRS 2023 / Fabien Carré, « Le détroit de Gibraltar en modèle réduit »

The CNRS is a key stakeholder in thought about global change

Other issues linked to climate imbalance will be highlighted at the COP 28, such as poles (French link), natural resources, water, biodiversity, forests, soils, energy (French link), finance and law. All of these will be addressed and complemented by contributions from CNRS researchers. A wide range of basic research in the sciences of the universe and the Earth, ecology and the environment, humanities and social sciences, engineering and systems sciences is helping to better describe, analyse, model, anticipate and innovate in today's context of global change. This research contributes to our understanding of how living organisms function and evolve, of the Earth system in all its components and of the dynamics and resilience of human populations. A great many research questions have arisen on issues like the dynamics of systems (atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere, continental water, biodiversity, ecosystems, soil and subsoil) and their interactions along with the effects of these systems on territories and societies in their spatial and temporal dimensions. CNRS researchers with recognised expertise contribute by putting forward adaptation solutions, studying the diversity of solutions based on nature, agro-ecology or resource management methods that are positive for social equity and healthy ecosystems.

"The CNRS's multidisciplinary nature and global approach make the organisation a key actor in understanding the climate and its impact (French link) on biodiversity, water, territories and society," explains Antoine Petit. "All social or ecological living systems are vulnerable to these changes and the CNRS has set up numerous systems to observe measure and model them. The multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary results of this research are then used to support decision-makers and also engineers and technicians – whether part of the CNRS or not – working on mitigation and adaptation solutions in the field".

The CNRS delegation will be attending the COP 28 with this spirit at heart, aiming to contribute its expertise to international efforts to deal with climate change, propose innovative responses to enhance prevention and remediation and to anticipate and adapt in the context of climate change and global change. This is another way in which CNRS is again putting its work to the service of a sustainable society.

Le CNRS et l'océan, interview de Joachim Claudet, conseiller pour l’océan au CNRS

However the ocean is a complex environment. The whole subject requires coordination that goes far beyond marine science alone to ensure and enhance the oceans' chances of preservation. This involves coordinating research and other activities in areas ranging from the continents to the deep sea, from the molecule right up to the global system, from ecosystems to human societies and their many uses of the ocean to sharing knowledge with decision-makers, professionals and the general public.

The CNRS is one of the world's leading research organisations and has over 1000 scientists studying the ocean in all its dimensions in around fifty laboratories. These research forces mean the organisation is capable of forging alliances to work on the subject between a wide range of disciplines including oceanography, physics, sociology, biology, ecology, geology, mathematics, chemistry, economics and even philosophy.

Joachim Claudet is the CNRS's designated Ocean advisor.