State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

COP28: Delegates From the Climate School Share Their Plans and Hopes

Kicking off on Nov. 30 and running through Dec. 12, the COP28 climate summit is taking place in Dubai this year. (Check out our COP28 coverage and events here.) The conference will bring together all kinds of people—world leaders, citizens, academics, activists, scientists, non-profit organizations and more—to discuss and implement solutions to climate change. New this year is a Local Action Climate Summit, featuring subnational climate leaders—mayors, governors, businesses and so on—who are increasingly important in the fight against climate change.

A number of representatives from the Columbia Climate School will be in attendance at COP28 to give talks, host panel discussions, and forge connections that could lead to innovative collaborations. We spoke to a few attendees about their hopes and expectations for the conference.

Jeffrey Shaman
Jeffrey Shaman, Columbia Climate School’s interim dean

What will you be doing, or what are you excited to do, at COP28?

I’m most excited to be part of Columbia Day, which we are hosting in the GAUC (Global Alliance of Universities on Climate) pavilion in the Blue Zone. We will hold a broad range of events with strong representation from the Climate School.

What do you personally hope to achieve while you’re there?

I’m hoping to advance Climate School agenda in finance, energy transitions, food, women in climate, climate and health, and the role of the university in grappling with the climate crisis. And of course, we want to elevate the Columbia Climate School profile.

What are some large-scale actions or takeaways that you hope to see come out of the summit?

We want to further build our network and lay the foundation for future research, practice and educational programs.


Daniel Zarrilli, special advisor on climate and sustainability, Columbia University

What will you be doing, or what are you excited to do, at COP28?

I’m excited to participate in the COP28 Local Climate Action Summit on December 1 and 2.  It’s the first time that cities, long recognized as global climate leaders, have been given an official role in the COP process. COP is built around national governments, but cities are where most people live, representing the bulk of the world’s economy and with that the majority of the world’s heat-trapping carbon pollution. Cities are also a nexus of so much climate vulnerability—from storms, heat waves, and flooding—particularly among their most marginalized communities, so it’s particularly important for cities to help shape the outcome at COP28.

What do you personally hope to achieve while you’re there?

I hope to connect with many of the policymakers and practitioners at the COP28 Local Climate Action Summit, and to share with them the exciting things happening here at Columbia. The Climate School has so many resources that can help them solve real problems. There is incredible opportunity for the Climate School to develop effective strategic partnerships that could support innovation and leadership in urban climate policy in ways that would have positive global impact.

What are some large-scale actions or takeaways you hope to see come out of the summit?

The world needs COP28 to do two major things: The first is to agree on the framework to phase out fossil fuels and end the world’s reliance on the coal, oil and gas that bear primary responsibility for our climate crisis. Financing the transition to clean energy is vital. If we can’t come to that agreement soon, our ability to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement will be lost. Second, nations must not just set up the structure of a loss and damage facility, but must agree to fund it so that it can begin to invest in equitable adaptation projects. But I worry that without rapid action to slash emissions, climate impacts will start to exceed our ability to adapt before parts of the globe become uninhabitable. In both cases, COP28 can now officially draw upon the leadership of cities, many of which have already put themselves on the path to decarbonization and resilience, to secure a livable future for all of us.


Melissa Lott, senior research scholar and the senior director of research at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, and Climate School professor of professional practice as of January 1, 2024

What will you be doing or what are you excited to do at COP28?

I will be focused on several priority issues related to the transition to net-zero in the energy sector, including energy for development in developing and emerging economies, equity and justice in the energy transition, and pathways for financing the transition. I am looking forward to engaging in dialogues with colleagues and decision makers from around the world, including in my work with the United Nations Council of Engineers for the Energy Transition and as a part of the Center on Global Energy Policy’s workstreams related to financing the energy transition.

What do you personally hope to achieve while you’re there?

I hope to continue to support effective communication and dialogue amongst stakeholders that are involved in the energy transition. This includes not just business and government leaders, but also community members from around the world who are currently working to find practical pathways forward that are in line with their priorities.

What are some large-scale actions or takeaways that you hope to see come out of the summit?

Among many other things, I hope to see progress in the conversation related to our shared understanding of how to achieve an equitable energy transition to net-zero systems. This includes, but is not limited to, addressing how we can ensure that the risks of the transition are minimized while ensuring access to the opportunities presented by this transition. It also includes making progress on developing the tools that the research says are needed to enable the financing of infrastructure in developing and emerging economies, many of whom will be the hardest hit by the changing climate.


Maria Dombrov, officer of research, staff associate II at the Center for Climate Systems Research

What will you be doing or what are you excited to do at COP28?

As the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN)’s global coordinator, I look forward to interacting with several of our international members and developing new connections on the ground in Dubai. UCCRN is a global consortium of urban climate change knowledge providers, whose mission is to provide research that enables cities and metropolitan regions to lead on mitigation and adaptation with a focus on action, equity and sustainable development.

I’ll also be speaking at a COP28 side event, Making NAPs More Efficient—New Futures to Bridge the NAP-GAP. National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) are an internationally recognized instrument built on climate risk analyses to identify, prioritize, implement and track progress toward necessary adaptation action to reduce vulnerability to climate risks and create climate-adapted and resilient societies. This event will feature conversations on transforming and scaling-up adaptation planning and overcoming barriers for effective NAP implementation, especially for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).

What do you personally hope to achieve while you’re there?

I hope to share key research takeaways from UCCRN’s Third Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities (ARC3.3) report, to be published by Cambridge University Press between 2023 and 2025. Through collaboration with six principal editors and a diverse group of over 200 authors, ARC3.3 presents a multidimensional assessment of the latest scientific understanding of urban climate change.

Inspired by the critical role cities play in shaping our planet’s future, ARC3.3 builds upon benchmarked research laid by earlier assessments, advancing the scientific understanding of urban climate change, providing updated city projections and recommending science-informed policies. ARC3.3 is composed of 12 peer-reviewed special reports, which delve into the complexities of urban socio-ecological systems, exploring the role of COVID-19, architecture, governance, infrastructure, technology, finance and nature-based solutions in driving climate action. It seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice and provides essential knowledge and tools to empower stakeholders at all levels.

What are some large-scale actions or takeaways that you hope to see come out of the summit?

This is a critical time for cities. In response to the triple challenges of COVID, climate change and conflict, cities are stepping up. Their role as climate change action leaders is becoming more and more recognized with every IPCC report, with mitigation and adaptation increasingly seen as intertwined in urban areas. I look forward to seeing the role that cities will play in governance and finance decision-making at this year’s COP.


Andrew Kruczkiewicz, senior staff research associate, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University

What will you be doing, or what are you excited to do, at COP28?

I’ll be chairing and participating as a speaker in various sessions, as well as meeting with key partners and potential future partners to discuss opportunities to collaborate. COP is an opportunity to listen to evolving policy narratives; the priorities of governments and influential NGOs; and general perceptions of what seems to be working regarding the translation and integration of science into policy and practice. All this comes with the responsibility to reflect and think critically about who is saying what, what their motivations are and to consider whose voices may be missing from the conversation.

What do you personally hope to achieve while you’re there?

It is a privilege for me, as a scientist, to work directly with humanitarian organizations. With this privilege comes a responsibility to attend sessions and discussions that may oversimplify, or even ignore, the various ways in which climate and weather data are integrated into decision making and policy. I will promote enhanced participation for scientists not only in data generation and dissemination, but also in the integration and translation elements of developing climate, disaster and humanitarian policy.

I will co-lead sessions about using both climate and socioeconomic data to address climate risk relative to extreme events and disasters, to promote the importance and responsibility of understanding both the constraints and opportunities to use such data in developing policy and standard operating procedures for disaster managers and the humanitarian sector.

As data becomes more available and accessible, there is an urgent need to promote responsibility and accountability in understanding challenges and limitations of data—particularly within fragile socioeconomic contexts and humanitarian crises—as misuse or failure to dedicate resources to assess the risk of unintended consequences can lead to significant impacts on the most vulnerable populations.

What are some large-scale actions or takeaways that you hope to see come out of the summit?

I believe a successful COP will set appropriately rigid yet sufficient flexible guardrails to make progress on the four paradigm shifts in the coming years. Expectations must be set regarding what COP can and most likely will not do. That said, accountability and governance related to pursuit of these paradigm shifts must be clearer if there is any chance for the science, policy and private sectors to evolve in a way that promotes sustainability in anticipating and taking action to reduce climate risk.

For my area of work—extreme events and climate-related disasters—action must be provided at disproportionately significant levels for the most underserved and socially vulnerable communities.


Jeff Schlegelmilch, director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia Climate School

What will you be doing or what are you excited to do at COP28?

Climate adaptation is becoming a priority that is a long time coming. While it is still important to commit to emissions reduction and overall climate change mitigation, the impacts of climate change and the need to adapt must be done concurrently. Our center, the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia Climate School, is heavily engaged in climate adaptation, and will be working to further build partnerships, share ideas and develop solutions to some of the most pressing adaptation issues we are facing, and will continue to face, in the years to come.

What do you personally hope to achieve while you’re there?

 COP has not traditionally had a lot of space for disaster management and adaptation discussions. Now that it is getting a larger share of global attention, I am excited to see what other work is being done and to forge new partnerships to help generate and activate the ideas that are needed to address the impacts and inequities in climate change.

What are some large-scale actions or takeaways that you hope to see come out of the summit?

Climate adaptation requires significant investment in both resources and time, and equity is an essential part of adaptation. We are several decades behind in addressing adaptation at the scale needed, and even further behind in doing so through an equity lens. As the world’s attention begins to shift in these directions, it is a tremendous opportunity to make transformational commitments that impact real change for the better.


Ben Orlove, professor of international and public affairs, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

What will you be doing or what are you excited to do at COP28?

I am excited to participate in the launch of 10 New Insights in Climate Science. I’m one of the authors of a section on adaptation justice—an opportunity to integrate equity into the conversations about adaptation. And I’m excited as well to participate in several events at the Cryosphere Pavilion, including the launch of the annual State of the Cryosphere report, to which I contributed, and activities of Ambition on Melting Ice, a high-level group of nations which represent mountain regions. Broadly similar to the Alliance for Small Island States and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, this group speaks from the impacts which its members are experiencing to press for ambitious reductions in emissions and expansion of climate finance.

What do you personally hope to achieve while you’re there?

I hope to listen as well as to speak, so that I can learn from delegates, activists and researchers, particularly around climate adaptation. This important area—which like all climate action remains underfunded—is growing rapidly. I look forward to meeting with colleagues who I’ve known for years, and to meeting new people, to exchange ideas and to strengthen networks. I have been fortunate to work on joint projects with Indigenous scholars and activists, and I’m particularly eager to learn about new activities they are undertaking.

What are some large-scale actions or takeaways that you hope to see come out of the summit?

COP28 represents an enormous opportunity, as the site of the first global stocktake—a review of how well the nations of the world have done on pledges made as part of the Paris Agreement and others. This will be a somber moment to acknowledge how much more needs to be done to stabilize our atmosphere and climate. We may well see significant advances on finance, a necessary element in addressing the climate crisis. This financing is needed not only to accelerate the transition to a post-carbon energy future and substantial adaptation activities, but also towards assuring the effectiveness of a loss and damage facility.

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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6 months ago

“I am delicate our next Generation in this moment” just natural Oxygen

Leslie McTyre
Leslie McTyre
6 months ago

I am hoping in spite of depressing previous history, that this COP will not be bought out by businesses attempting to manipulate opinion in their favor and against true awareness of our critical climate crisis.

David Knowles
David Knowles
Reply to  Leslie McTyre
6 months ago

Agreed, but given the views of the COP president I worry your hopes are in vain:

Ahmed Mahmoud Mahmoud Hassan omar
6 months ago

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I,m techer of biology
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In hydrogen production
in the using H2 in cars
My tow sons Mahmoud,Yousef study using hydrogen and Nitrogen in cars
I,m looking forward to study free in the project in the university
Ihave Diploma in environmental science
Now I study master in the environment ail sience