Thanks to Eduarda Zoghbi MPA ’21, concentrating in Energy and Environment, for this post.


I decided to study energy and environment at SIPA because I knew it would be the best institution to offer me the opportunity to connect with world-renowned and international faculty experienced in climate negotiations and advising governments. Growing up, I always considered climate change to be the world’s most pressing challenge, and my goal going to SIPA was to learn from the best and make an impactful contribution to my country – Brazil.

This summer I had an opportunity that took me one step closer to this goal. It all started in February, when I learned Brazilian Senator Jaques Wagner was coming to New York to showcase his new mandate to drive the ECLAC/UN Big Push for Sustainability in the Federal Senate. Through the student group “Brazil Talk”, we decided to organize an event and I invited my two employers – the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) and the Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) – to host a discussion about the Brazilian Green New Deal for students.

During this event, Jonathan Elkind and Mauricio Cardenas, Senior Research Scholars at CGEP, highlighted the importance of international cooperation as he moderated the senator’s presentation on the potential of renewable energy in Brazil to generate jobs and foster economic development. After meeting the senator and his team, I offered to support the Big Push framework in Congress by providing research and policy recommendations based on the US and the EU Green Deals to ensure a cohesive climate strategy that conformed with Brazil’s political context.

The Senator’s team welcomed my idea and I started seeking for financial support within SIPA. I was thrilled to go back to Brasilia – my home city and capital of Brazil – to interview legislators and work inside Congress. Then, COVID-19 changed everything. Even though I couldn’t travel to Brazil, I was still fully committed to this work. Thanks to Columbia University, I was honored to receive CGEP’s Women in Energy and the Whitman Family Foundation grants to help Senator Jaques Wagner and enhance Brazil’s environmental legislation.

Over the course of this summer, I have broken down the Big Push framework down into concrete action points, identified which were aligned to US/EU Green Deal targets and categorized them into short, medium, and long-term priorities for the country. Next, I carried out a robust legislative mapping of all existing congressional bills in alignment with these priorities. Finally, I recommended a strategy to help his team prioritize voting and sponsoring new pieces of climate legislation.

My work supported the consolidation of three major environmental campaigns: the ECLAC/UN Big Push for Sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement. I am very thankful to Senator Jaques Wagner’s team for trusting me with this work and for undertaking such a crucial program to advance climate targets in Congress. Furthermore, I deeply appreciate Columbia University and SIPA for seeing the potential impact of this work and supporting my academic and professional goals. I hope they will continue to support internships and projects promoting a sustainable future for the next generation, and I can’t wait to learn more about the new Climate School!