State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate School Announces Two New Appointments

Melissa Lott, left, and Catherine McKenna join the Climate School

The Columbia Climate School has added two new appointments, announced by the school’s interim dean, Jeffrey Shaman.

Dr. Melissa Lott will join the faculty of the Climate School as a professor of professional practice as of January 1, 2024. Previously, Melissa served as a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), partnering closely with the Climate School. In addition to her new role at the Climate School, she will continue to serve as senior director of research at the SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University.

Catherine McKenna, a distinguished global climate leader, has joined the Climate School as an adjunct senior research scholar. She is engaging with and advising the Climate School on a range of topics, including climate law and finance, and her initiative Women Leading on Climate. She will also periodically hold office hours for Climate School students.

“We are delighted to have Melissa and Catherine joining the Climate School in new capacities,” Jeff Shaman said. “They are both highly regarded in their respective fields and have strong connections to Columbia. We know their contributions and interdisciplinary collaborations across the University will bring new approaches that address the politics and policies of climate change.”

Melissa’s work focuses on analyzing and modeling the technological, economic and public health tradeoffs resulting from changes in the energy system, with a particular focus on the transition to a net-zero energy system. She is currently serving on the United Nations Council of Engineers for the Energy Transition, an independent advisory council to the UN Secretary-General. She is also a member of the Energy Systems Integration Technical Review Panel at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Economics of Equitable Transition. This year, she was named the 2023 recipient of the AGU Pavel S. Molchanov Climate Communications Prize. Melissa has also been teaching a course, Climate Change Mitigation, for the MA in Climate and Society program. She received her Ph.D. in Sustainable Energy Resources and Engineering from the University College London.

Catherine McKenna is Canada’s former Minister of Environment and Climate Change as well as Minister of Infrastructure. She chaired the UN Secretary General’s new High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments of Non-State Entities released at COP 27 in Egypt in 2022, setting out criteria for net-zero commitments of business, financial institutions, cities and regions. She is the CEO of Climate and Nature Solutions and founder of Women Leading on Climate. She is also an advisor to the climate data steering committee for the Macron/Bloomberg Net Zero Data Public Utility, to Singapore’s International Advisory Panel for Carbon Credits, to the Energy Transition Accelerator, as well as to the University of Ottawa’s Information Integrity Lab.

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