Cornell faculty and researchers tackled climate change topics such as New York State’s transition to clean energy and climate-smart agriculture at events during Climate Week NYC.
The series of events, held at the Cornell Club in New York, aimed to raise awareness about local climate-related community initiatives. Climate Week NYC, which took place this year from Sept. 24 to Sept. 30, is a collection of hundreds of affiliated events that provide the opportunity for researchers, government administrators and businesspeople from across the world to exchange ideas and updates regarding climate action, according to the event’s website.
The week is coordinated by The Climate Group, a nonprofit organization focused on climate action, with support from the United Nations and the City of New York.
From Sept. 27-28, Cornell-affiliated organizations hosted three different events that were attended by local and international activists and experts.
On Thursday, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions partnered with the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture to host a workshop titled “Catalyzing Action towards Climate-Smart Agriculture,” according to the Climate Week NYC website. The half-day event focused on providing ways for leaders of the agriculture industry, including farmers, policymakers and business owners, to best meet the goals of climate-smart agriculture. The workshop featured Cornell initiatives related to agriculture and combating climate change.
On Friday, CICSS also partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture Northeast Climate Hub and New York Sea Grant to host the Local Climate Action Summit. CICSS Program Manager Danielle Eiseman told The Sun that she organized this event for the first time with funding from a one-year planning grant for an environmental volunteer training program focused on climate action.
“We said in the grant that we would have a stakeholder meeting to get input from people throughout the Northeast,” Eiseman said. “We also wanted to bring together the people we might not have the chance to speak to.”
Eiseman invited participants that came from universities working with the grant and from climate action programs in local communities across the Northeast. She said that response was unexpectedly high, with registration attendance reaching maximum capacity. Over 100 climate-action leaders attended, including experts from a wide geographical range of communities including New York City, California and other countries.
Another Cornell-affiliated event was a midday panel on Friday hosted by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. The panel publicized Cornell’s research and technological innovations in energy with a particular focus on propelling New York State’s transition to clean energy. Panelists included Prof. Jefferson Tester, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Trey Taylor, co-founder of underwater turbine company Verdant Power.
According to Tester, a primary goal of the panel was publicizing the work currently being conducted to combat climate change. “We’re trying to figure out ways to better communicate,” he said. “They wanted to expose the community — in this case both Cornell alums that might come back and people that would be in NY for the Climate Change week.”
Tester believed the hosting of the panel in New York was integral to achieving its idea-exchange goals.
“It shouldn’t be about just what Cornell can do on its campus,” Tester said. “It’s setting an example for what we can do as a way to demonstrate what could be scalable to NY and other places.”
Michal Moore, visiting professor and Atkinson Center fellow, participated in the panel. He believed the panel aimed to connect people of different fields who shared the same interest in climate action.
“There’s a lot of research going on here, and a lot of systems that people can take advantage of if they knew what we were doing or who to contact,” he said. “They could take advantage of some of the products that we have and see if they could integrate them into their designs.”
The panel focused on energy generation technologies and consumer demand for energy. Moore hoped the panel would help connect clean-energy companies with Cornell alumni and other potential investors.
“If they see that there’s exciting stuff going on, they’re going to want to invest in it,” he said. “If they see that there’s something they can make a difference in, they’re going to come and talk to us. They’re going to want to come and help out.”