Climate, Copenhagen, and Columbia

The following was prepared by SIPA Student Joshua Huneycutt, a second year MIA student concentrating in Energy and Environmental Policy.

381634787_f52e84a5afImage Courtesy of suburbanbloke via Flickr

As the world prepares for the upcoming global climate summit in Copenhagen this December, there’s a flurry of activity here at SIPA and Columbia.   Following British climate economist Lord Stern (link here) and controversial Danish environment minister Connie Hedegaard’s (link here) visits to the 15th floor of SIPA last month, there have been a number lively debates, lectures, and events surrounding the question of whether or not the US and the rest of the world can forge agreements and pass legislation to prevent a global climate catastrophe.

Columbia’s establishment of the Columbia Climate Center (link: http://climate.columbia.edu/) this past spring reaffirmed the university’s commitment to comprehensively tackling the issue.  With Columbia Law School’s hiring of leading climate law expert Michael Gerrard and SIPA’s appointment of Scott Barrett, a lead author of the IPPC’s second assessment report, to the SIPA faculty, climate policy issues have been put in the spotlight on campus.

On top of stellar new faculty and engaging events, SIPA gives students the opportunities to engage directly with agenda-setting organizations on matters related to climate change.  For example, I participated in a consulting workshop group that advised the World Bank on incorporating climate adaptation considerations into their lending mechanisms and helped to overhaul a computer-based climate risk analysis tool.

Regardless of what happens in Copenhagen, SIPA and the Columbia community will continue to expand their offerings to help those dedicated to finding viable solutions to these great challenges.  Check out a few climate-related events that took place:

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10/29 What is the Global Warming Intensity of a Vehicle Fuel?  Uncertainty, Life Cycle Analysis, and Time in the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Beyond.

We have the pleasure of welcoming Michael O’Hare, Professor of Public Policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC-Berkeley, for an informational lecture and discussion on his research regarding the use of alternative fuels. A few months ago, the Air Resources Board of the State of California adopted a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), a 10% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020, and Professor O’Hare’s team at Berkeley was responsible for a large amount of the policy’s supporting research.

This groundbreaking legislation was passed with the notable inclusion of “indirect land use change” (LUC), the conversion of land used to grow food into land used to grow corn specifically for ethanol, as a source of emissions, overcoming the intense lobbying efforts of the ethanol biofuel industry with indisputable research on the effects of LUC. Professor O’Hare will share many of his team’s discoveries, as well as comment on their potential and actual impacts on local, state, and national climate change policy.  Join us for a lively discussion of an important facet of the current climate change debate.

Thursday, Oct. 29th at 3 pm

Location: 1512 International Affairs Building

This event is being co-sponsored by The Earth Institute, the Columbia Climate Center, the Master in Public Administration program in Environmental Science and Policy, and the Master in Public Administration in Environmental Policy Studies Energy and Environment Concentration program.

10/30 LDEO Earth Science Colloquium: Assessing Resilience of Past Societies to Climatic Change: the Case of Angkor’s 15th Century Collapse and Reorganization

Speaker: Dan Penny, Australian Research Council (ARC) Fellow, University of Sidney

Friday October 30 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Location: Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Monell Building Auditorium

Web Site: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/earth-science-colloquium/2009-2010