State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Columbia Climate School’s Delegation at COP26

The Glasgow science centre, SECC, where COP26 is being held. Credit: richardjohnson /

It’s the world’s “best last chance to get runaway climate change under control,” and Columbia University is there in full force. COP26, the United Nations climate change conference, gathers together heads of state, business leaders, activists and more to deliberate on what more needs to happen to keep the goal of limiting Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This year, the Columbia Climate School is helping to shape the conversation by hosting special events and sharing stories that include a variety of perspectives from global thought leaders, students and experts.

Here are the Columbia University affiliates who are attending, and some of their activities around COP26.

Jason Bordoff, co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School and founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy:

  • Private roundtable and public panel on Mobilizing Private Capital for Climate Action in Emerging Markets
  • Nov. 4: Participating on a panel at the US Pavilion: “The Next Wave of Climate Solutions: Accelerating Innovation Now to Scale Up in the ‘30s & ‘40s” hosted by Breakthrough Energy, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Third Way
  • Nov. 4: Columbia at COP26: Turning Ambition into Action
  • Nov 8: Student Roundtable with former US President Barack Obama, co-hosted by the Climate School and the Obama Foundation
  • Nov 8: The Climate School, CGEP, and Galvanize Climate Solutions will host a dinner with global leaders in climate finance to explore strategies on mobilizing private capital for climate action in developing countries, featuring USAID Administrator Samantha Power and Galvanize Climate Solutions Co-Founder, Tom Steyer

Ruth DeFries, professor of ecology and sustainable development and co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School, will be attending COP26 as a designated NGO observer from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, which is based in Bengaluru, India. She is involved with two events:

John Furlow and Melody Braun of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society:

Julio Friedmann, senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy:

  • Nov. 5: Carbon Removal: Existing and Emerging Solutions
  • Nov. 7: Low-C hydrogen symposium
  • Nov. 7: CO2 removal symposium
  • Nov. 8: Circular Carbon Economy Event
  • Nov. 9 or 10: Carbon-to-value roundtable
  • Nov. 9: Release event for the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum Carbon Mineralization Roadmap
  • Nov. 11: Green hydrogen event

Alex Halliday, the director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and founding dean of the Columbia Climate School:

  • Moderating a November 4 event around turning climate ambition into action. The event will connect Climate School students with leaders in energy and climate.
  • Serving as a judge for the Climate Challenge Cup, a competition that will showcase exciting innovations needed to tackle climate change.
  • On Nov 8: Hosted by the Earth Institute and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, there will be a special dinner introducing those in the adaptation field to the Climate School.

Thaddeus Pawlowski, managing director of the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes:

Cynthia Rosenzweig, senior scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Earth Institute, is co-chair of the science committee of the World Adaptation Science Programme (WASP). WASP is leading or participating in several COP26 side events, including:

David Sandalow, inaugural fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy:

  • Nov. 9: Release event for the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum Carbon Mineralization Roadmap
  • Nov. 10: Event on China’s energy transition hosted by the Danish energy ministry

Gavin Schmidt, NASA’s acting senior climate advisor and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, gave a talk based around this visualization of climate drivers over time.

Korey Silverman-Roati, a fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, is at COP 26 supporting the organization Legal Response International, which aids developing countries with small delegations in the negotiations. Silverman-Roati is acting as a liaison to gather legal questions and help connect them with experts. He will also be speaking at an event about climate legislation and litigation.

Dawn Marie Wells, associate professor who teaches a Columbia course on impact finance for sustainability practitioners:

  • Speaking engagement with OECD, Financing for Sustainable Development

Additional Columbia University representatives: 

Teresa Borges, Program manager at Columbia Global Centers

Andrew Fagerheim, Undergraduate student in engineering and delegate for the Wild Center

Catalina Sanchez-Roa, Postdoctoral research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Cecilia Sorensen, MD, Faculty member at the Mailman School of Public Health and directs the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education

Silas Swanson, Undergraduate student in environmental engineering and philosophy, and delegate for the Wild Center

Christian Vanizette, Obama Foundation Scholar

Eduarda Zoghbi, Graduate student in public administration, concentrating on energy and the environment and specializing in gender and public policy; BRICS Youth Energy Agency speaker

  • Nov. 4: Building the resilience of smallholder farmers through solar-powered agricultural technologies
  • Nov. 5: BRICS Youth Energy Agency at Russian Pavilion: Clean Energy Strategy
  • Nov. 5: Student Energy: Women leading on climate launch
  • Nov. 5: Women in Energy Transition and Innovation for Sustainable Future
Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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