Princeton-CMI Annual Meeting Focuses on Climate Research, Innovation, and Policy

Holly Welles ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Climate science, technology, and policy were the focus of the 16th annual meeting of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) held at Princeton University on April 4-5, 2017. Over 100 people gathered to hear presentations and take part in discussions about terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks, modeling of tropical cyclones, energy innovations and disruptive technologies, U.S. climate policy including the regulatory and tax outlook, and climate change perspectives in the era of the Trump administration.

Participants and attendees of the CMI annual meeting included Princeton faculty and students and colleagues from BP, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, the US Geological Survey, the World Bank, 11 national and international universities, and several environmental non-profit organizations and policy think-tanks.

CMI co-director Stephen Pacala speaking about carbon uptake by plants under drought conditions.

CMI co-directors Robert Socolow, professor emeritus and senior research scholar with the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Stephen Pacala, Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, opened the meeting with an overview of recent CMI initiatives.

“CMI began in 2000, when then BP chief executive John Browne sensed that the world might pass through a discontinuity and begin to take climate change seriously,” said Socolow. “Browne wanted BP to develop a comfortable relationship with a research center that would advance climate science and analyze low-carbon technology. This remains the joint objective of CMI which is based at Princeton University and administered by the Princeton Environmental Institute.” Socolow also called attention to the Highlights of CMI 2016 research found in the CMI’s 2016 Annual Report.

Pacala reviewed recent CMI research initiatives including efforts to improve the understanding of carbon sinks in the ocean and on land, enhance prediction of extreme weather under climate change, and to explore means for reaching carbon neutrality.

Announcing a new supplementary award from BP to study global methane, Pacala said, “The objective of this project is to quantify the contributions of individual sources and sinks to atmospheric methane variability at global scales and to discover controls on microbial methane metabolism and its isotopic signatures.”

Pacala also shared breaking news that he has been appointed to chair a new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study to develop a research agenda for carbon dioxide removal and reliable sequestration.

Cindy Yeilding, senior vice president of BP America, provided an update on priorities and its recently issued Energy Technology Outlook.

During a celebratory reception, Bhargav Rallabandi, a Princeton University postdoctoral research fellow, was presented with the 2017 CMI Best Paper Award. Rallabandi, who works in Howard Stone’s lab, was selected for his paper, “Wind-Driven Formation of Ice Bridges in Straits.” The paper was published in Physical Review Letters in March 2017.

Best Paper Award 2017

John Holdren, professor of environmental policy at Harvard University and former science advisor to President Obama, delivered a keynote address reflecting upon today’s challenges associated with climate science and policy. The annual meeting included additional guests who joined after participating in a day-long celebration in honor of Robert Williams. Williams, former head of the Energy Systems Analysis Group and principal investigator with CMI, recently retired from Princeton after a distinguished 41-year career.

Former science advisor to President Obama delivering a keynote address reflecting upon today’s challenges associated with climate science and policy.

CMI Meeting 2017

Led by co-directors Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow, CMI currently includes 14 lead faculty and over 60 researchers who have published over 700 peer-reviewed articles.

CMI Meeting 2017