CMI Holds 15th Annual Meeting

Holly P. Welles ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

The 15th annual meeting of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) was held on April 13-14, 2016 in London. This is the first time in the 15-year history of CMI that the annual meeting has been held somewhere other than the Princeton University campus.

Holding the meeting in London facilitated greater engagement between CMI investigators and European colleagues. Over 60 people attended to hear presentations and take part in discussions about terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks, carbon targets and budgets, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane leakage, and post-COP21 perspectives.

It also afforded the opportunity to organize and participate in a variety of additional working meetings throughout the week focused on climate policy, subsurface storage of CO2, methane leakage, climate variability, and battery technology.

Attendees of the CMI annual meeting included Princeton faculty and students and colleagues from BP, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), 5 national and international universities, and several environmental non-profit organizations and policy think-tanks.

CMI Meeting 2016


Cindy Yeilding, vice president of BP America, provided opening remarks. Following, CMI lead investigators reported on recent research advances in terrestrial and ocean carbon science, carbon capture and sequestration, climate science, and carbon targets. Topics included:

  • “Terrestrial Carbon Sink, Methane Emissions, Extreme Events” (Stephen Pacala)
  • “Carbon Budgets” (Rob Socolow)
  • “Southern Ocean Carbon” (Jorge Sarmiento)
  • “CO2 Leakage” (Michael Celia)
  • “Better Batteries” (Dan Steingart)

Graduate student Phillip Hannam presented his research findings on coal power finance in the contest for Asia.

Paul Jefferiss, head of policy at BP, David Hawkins, director of climate programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Frans Berkout from King’s College London engaged in an in-depth discussion about the meaning of Paris and the implications for the future.

The oil and gas industry to 2035 was the focus of another series of presentations and discussions including:  Paul Appleby, head of energy economics at BP, Christopher Greig, director of University of Queensland Energy Initiative, Ian Luciani, strategy and analytics manager of carbon solutions, BP; Ben Caldecott, director of stranded assets program, University of Oxford; Mike Musket, distinguished advisor for downstream technology, BP; and Robert Williams, seinior research scientist, Princeton University.

Peter Kelemen, Arthur D. Storke Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and department chair at Columbia, gave a luncheon talk about his Oman Drilling Project and its potential for carbon capture and storage using in situ mineral carbonation. In a dinner presentation, Ottmar Edenhofer, deputy director and chief economist at the Postdam Institue for Climate Impact Research, discussed the feasibility of “recarbonization” and the likelihood of reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement socially, politically and technically.

In addition to CMI advisory council member Hawkins, the other council members in attendance included Sally Benson, professor of energy resources engineering, Stanford University, and Daniel Schrag, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology and professor of environmental science and engineering, Harvard University.

Best Paper CMI 2016

During a ceremony held on the Princeton campus on February 23, Hill awarded the 2016  CMI Best Paper Award to former Princeton postdoctoral research fellow Caroline Farrior.  Farrior, who worked in the Pacala lab, was selected for her paper, “Dominance of the Suppressed: Power law size structure in tropical forests.”  The paper was published in the journal Science  in January 2016. 

Based at Princeton University and administered by Princeton Environmental Institute, CMI is a university-industry partnership sponsored by BP that began in 2000. Both parties are committed to rigorous research to address the ever-increasing challenges associated with the climate problem. In November 2014, BP renewed CMI’s contract for an additional 5 years, carrying the program forward through 2020.

Led by CMI Co-Directors Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow, the group includes over 60 researchers who have published over 700 peer-reviewed articles.

CMI Meeting 2016

For additional information about CMI’s current research, see the newly released CMI 2015 Annual Report and CMI website.