Climate change is one of the most urgent and extensive global threats confronting us today. Each year, greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb, warming the earth and exacting devastating consequences on both natural and built environments. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events are more frequently leading to crises in almost every domain, including food security, biodiversity, public health and national security. While the 2015 Paris Agreement resulted in a near universal commitment by countries to limit the increase in average global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius and to “pursue efforts” to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, neither goal is likely to be achieved based on current trends.
On September 17, 2019, CWP invited about 35 experts from inside and outside of Columbia University for a Forum – a meeting to better understand key aspects of this challenge and identify promising projects that CWP could implement to achieve potential solutions. Before the meeting, experts worked with CWP staff to develop more than 15 project proposals, which were discussed and evaluated at the Forum.
Working Groups and Project Proposals
Participants at the Forum were split into five working groups organized by theme: decarbonization of buildings; breakthrough technologies in storage, materials and capture; transportation and infrastructure; tracking and measuring emissions to change practice; and policy innovation.
Subject matter experts were assigned to the groups based on their various fields of knowledge, distinct backgrounds and different views on the topic. Each working group had to evaluate between two and five project proposals developed in advance by participants and CWP staff.
Read more about the project proposals and the working group discussions in our Forum report.
Decarbonization Working Groups
- Decarbonization of Buildings add
- Breakthrough Technologies in Storage, Materials and Capture add
- Transportation and Infrastructure add
- Tracking and Measuring Emissions to Change Practice add
- Policy Innovation add
Participant biographies are current as of September 17, 2019
Lee C. BollingerPresident, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Lee C. Bollinger became Columbia University’s nineteenth president in 2002. Under his leadership, Columbia stands again at the very top rank of great research universities, distinguished...
Morten BækPermanent Secretary of State, Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and UtilitiesRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Morten Bæk joined the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building at its creation in November 2007, serving as head of the Minister’s Private Office, the Department of National Energy...
Scott BantaVice Chair and Professor of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Scott Banta is a Professor and the Vice Chair of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. His research focuses on biochemical engineering and synthetic biology for applications in...
Jason BordoffProfessor, Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Jason Bordoff is a professor of professional practice at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs and serves as founding Director of Columbia's Center on Global Energy Policy.
Mark BrownsteinSenior Vice President, Energy, Environmental Defense FundRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Mark Brownstein is Senior Vice President of Energy at Environmental Defense Fund, and a member of EDF’s executive team. The goal of the EDF Energy Program is to bend the curve on greenhouse...
Cristóbal De la MazaHead of Environmental and Climate Change Division, Ministry of Energy, Government of ChileRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Cristóbal de la Maza is the Head of Division of Environmental and Climate Change of the Ministry of Energy of the Government of Chile. Currently he leads the design and implementation...
Brian DeeseManaging Director, Global Head of Sustainable Investing. BlackRockRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Brian Deese, Managing Director, is Global Head of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock. The Sustainable Investing team is focused on identifying drivers of long-term return associated with...
Daniel EspositoAssociate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Daniel Esposito received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware and studied as a postdoctoral research associate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology...
Julio FriedmannSenior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Julio Friedmann is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. He recently served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of...
Michael GerrardAndrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law SchoolRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Michael B. Gerrard is Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School, where he teaches courses on environmental and energy law and directs the Sabin Center for...
David GoldbergProfessor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
David Goldberg is a Lamont Research Professor and his interests focus on the integration of different technologies and cross-disciplinary approaches to develop achievable climate solutions.
Avril D. HainesFormer Deputy DirectorRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Avril Haines was the Deputy Director of Columbia World Projects from 2017-2020. She now serves as director of national intelligence in the Biden administration.
Alex HallidayDirector, Earth Institute; Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Dr. Alex Halliday is the Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He joined the Earth Institute in April 2018, after spending more than a decade at the University of Oxford...
Geoffrey HealDonald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business SchoolRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Geoffrey Heal is noted for contributions to economic theory and resource and environmental economics. He holds bachelors and doctoral degrees from Cambridge University and an Honorary...
Marie JohanssonDirector of Product Sustainability, Colgate-Palmolive CompanyRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Marie Johansson is the Director of Product Sustainability for Colgate-Palmolive Company, a consumer products company based in New York City. She is responsible for the leadership of Colgate’s...
Noah KaufmanResearch Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Noah Kaufman joined the Center on Global Energy Policy as research scholar in January 2018. He is an economist who has worked on energy and climate change policy in both the public and private sectors.
Richard KauffmanChair, New York State Energy Research & Development AuthorityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Richard Kauffman is Chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). He also serves as Chair of Generate Capital, a leading financier of clean energy projects.
Nicholas LemannFormer DirectorJoseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism; Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Journalism; Director, Columbia Global ReportsRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Nicholas Lemann was the director of Columbia World Projects from 2017 through February 2021. He directs Columbia Global Reports, a book publishing venture that commissions reporting...
John LochnerVice President Innovation, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)Read Full Bio arrow_right_alt
John Lochner founded Headland Advisors, which advises on and structures investments in sustainability-focused opportunities. As an investor in and advisor to businesses in water, energy...
Christoph MeinrenkenAssociate Research Scientist, Earth Institute, Engineering School, Data Science Institute, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Christoph Meinrenken is an Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University's Earth Institute, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering...
Vijay ModiColumbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Vijay Modi is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University and a member of the Earth Institute faculty. His areas of expertise are energy resources/access...
Bruce NillesManaging Director, Rocky Mountain InstituteRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Bruce Nilles is a Managing Director at Rocky Mountain Institute where he is leading its work on electrifying everything with clean electricity, starting with the building sector.
Alissa ParkEarth and Environmental Engineering & Chemical Engineering, Columbia UniversityAssociate Professor in Applied Climate Science, Lenfest Center for Sustainable EnergyRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Alissa Park is the Lenfest Chair in Applied Climate Science of Earth and Environmental Engineering & Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. She is also the Director of the Lenfest...
John PodestaFounder and Director, Center for American ProgressRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
John Podesta served as Chair of Hillary for America. Prior to joining Hillary Clinton's campaign, he served as Counselor to President Barack Obama. In 2008, he served as co-chair of President...
Kenneth PrewittCarnegie Professor of Public Affairs, Columbia UniversitySpecial Advisor to the PresidentRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Kenneth Prewitt is the Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs at Columbia University. He taught Political Science at the University of Chicago from 1965–1982, and for shorter stints was...
Karen ReifVice President, Renewables and Energy Solutions, Public Service Electric & Gas CompanyRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Karen Reif was elected vice president - renewables and energy solutions, effective July 2018. In this role she oversees PSE&G’s clean energy strategy. She is responsible for the...
Andrew RevkinDirector, Initiative on Communication and Innovation, Earth Institute, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Andrew Revkin is the Director of the Initiative on Communication Innovation & Impact at the Earth Institute. He is has worked as a senior reporter for climate and related...
David SandalowInaugural Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia UniversityCo-Director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at the School of International and Public AffairsRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
David Sandalow is the Inaugural Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and co-Director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
Abe SilvermanGeneral Counsel, New Jersey Board of Public UtilitiesRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Abe recently joined the BPU after working in the energy space for 20 years, including working at FERC, private practice, and for the last decade, NRG Energy, Inc.
Nik SteinbergDeputy DirectorRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Nik is the Deputy Director of Columbia World Projects. He previously served as the Counselor and Chief Speechwriter for Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Dan SteingartAssociate Professor Chemical Metallurgy and Chemical Engineering, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Daniel Steingart is the Stanley Thompson Associate Professor of Chemical Metallurgy and Chemical Engineering and the co-director of the Columbia Electrochemical Energy Center.
Satya TripathiAssistant Secretary General and Head of the New York Office, United Nations Envrionment ProgrammeRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Satya S. Tripathi is the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Before that, Mr. Tripathi served as Senior...
Venkat VenkataramanEVP of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer, Bloom EnergyRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Venkat Venkataraman brings to Bloom Energy more than 35 years of experience in process design and optimization. He leads the development of highly efficient and low cost Bloom Energy Servers.
Alan WestProfessor, SEAS, CEEC, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Alan West received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California and his BS from Case Western Reserve University. He is the co-director of the Columbia Electrochemical...
Two projects that emerged from this Forum are currently in development. Learn about our Offshore Storage of Billions of Tons of Carbon Dioxide and Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Consumer Products projects. Development of two other projects, Reducing Methane Emissions and Bioenergy With Carbon Capture and Storage: A Negative Emissions Technology, was discontinued in agreement with the project teams and prospective partners.
We welcome your input
If you have suggestions related to the projects selected from the decarbonization Forum, email us and we'll share your thoughts with the CWP project team.