This network focuses on the theme of “Climate Justice” as it applies to governments and societies grappling with the dual mandate of building resilience to climate change and decarbonizing their economies. The network, expanding on the successful and productive “Columbia Interdisciplinary Research on Climate” (CIRC) workshop, brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars who seek to conduct cutting-edge research and build innovative curricula on climate-related topics that speak to the theme of climate justice. This core group draws from a range of disciplines, departments, and units at Columbia University, serving as a discussion and learning platform for both network members and other interested students, postdocs and faculty across CU to connect and work on topics related to “Decarbonization, Climate Resilience and Climate Justice.” We aim to expand the scope, impact, and diversity of membership over the course of three years, with an eye toward advancing interdisciplinary climate research, outreach and education at Columbia. We propose developing new cross-cutting coursework, complementary to and coordinated with existing Earth Institute (EI) and Climate School education programs. The network intends to hold a Columbia-wide workshop on the theme of “Decarbonization, Climate Resilience, and Climate Justice” at the end of the second year and a broader conference open to stakeholders from across New York at the end of the third year
Background and Motivation
Climate change and the rapidly growing climate emergency represent arguably the biggest challenge to human society as we look beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. It is our duty as academics and scientists to address this crisis by an all-hands-on-deck approach. Columbia University and the Earth Institute are already highly active in the trans-disciplinary field of climate, and the School of Climate is evolving quickly as the leading academic force for actionable scientific and public policy work on the climate crisis. Page Fortna and Nikhar Gaikwad founded CIRC in 2020, which has since developed into a functional platform for the discussion of climate change related topics across academic disciplines. With the aim of further expanding and institutionalising this interdisciplinary working group, the Climate Justice Network was established as a trans-disciplinary and trans-departmental scholarly network at Columbia. We note that the imperative to work on climate justice represents the best opportunity we have had in a long time, and may have for a long time to come, to advance the agenda of justice more broadly.
Central Themes While the climate crisis has environmental and physical dimensions, it also has profound ethical and political ramifications. The causes and consequences of climate change, along with steps taken to mitigate it, warrant analysis from the vantage of environmental and social justice. Concepts such as historical responsibilities, protection of human rights and collective rights, compensation to redress past, present, and future losses, and “just transition” all assume a central role in contextualizing our scientific understanding of climate change and in informing how states and societies respond to climate change. Our focus on climate justice mirrors our broader scholarly commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—goals that we actively explore in our network’s substantive focus, composition, and proposed activities. Concepts of justice are fundamental to our understanding of, and strategies toward, climate adaptation (e.g., resilience) and mitigation (decarbonization) efforts. Consider the natural process chain, in which rising CO2 emissions (driven by human action in a small number of countries and communities) generate global warming, leading to the melting of ice, rising sea levels, and warmer ocean surfaces, which in turn generate even more destructive hurricanes that batter shorelines and coastal communities. As parts of the earth’s coastlines become uninhabitable, societies will need to develop responses and solutions focusing on resilience without sacrificing justice and equity. For example, historically marginalized peoples such as communities of color and indigenous groups typically face the most deleterious effects of global warming, while having contributed the least to it. At the heart of societal decisions to invest in climate resilience is an equity paradox. Climate change will dramatically exacerbate socio-economic inequalities both within and across countries, disproportionately impacting the marginalized. Wealthier individuals have the capacity to fund climate adaptation plans, but also the weakest incentive to contribute to these plans; they are able to channel resources to fund personal climate adaptation efforts. By contrast, vulnerable populations with the strongest need for climate adaptation policies have the fewest resources to contribute to such efforts. Urgent work is needed to explicate the channels by which societal actors—individuals, governments, NGOs, businesses, and civil society groups—may resolve the equity paradox in climate resilience efforts, a necessity to be successful in fighting and solving the climate crisis. Thus, concepts of justice bring together the study of climate resilience in the natural sciences with those in the social sciences and humanities. In a parallel manner, justice remains front and center in our scholarly understanding of decarbonization efforts. Decarbonization depends on the generation of scientific knowledge about the processes that will reduce human emissions of greenhouse gases and/or actively reduce atmospheric CO2 levels by carbon capture techniques. Impactful decarbonization strategies require coordination across countries seeking to ratify effective emissions reductions agreements; notably, geological or ecological solutions may bear little resemblance to political boundaries. It necessitates convincing and empowering voters, firms, and special interest groups to support national policies investing in decarbonization research and facilitate meaningful emission reductions. These policies are poised to generate vigorous opposition from groups registering material losses from decarbonization. To alleviate these “carbon transition” costs for the vulnerable and create momentum for climate policy cooperation, governments and civil society must consider equity norms while formulating policies that redress the losses borne by societal actors harmed by decarbonization. The relationship between climate justice, resilience, and decarbonization raises a cluster of questions that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries: How is climatic vulnerability and resilience scientifically determined? Philosophically, should those harmed be compensated—and, if yes, by whom, by how much, and by what principle? What are the economic dimensions of compensation, and is it most efficiently achieved via carbon taxes or other forms of redistributive policies? How can governmental and non-governmental organizations build mass support for climate compensation, and what sorts of compensatory instruments are most likely to muster popular endorsement? Should intergenerational and cross-national considerations inform equity tradeoffs in determining compensation related to climate vulnerability? The political, economic, geological, ecological, and philosophical dimensions of these questions speak closely to urgent work being conducted in the physical sciences on climate resilience and decarbonization.
Accordingly, the network aims to build an interdisciplinary hub of scholars, students and postdocs who are interested in pursuing research projects and creating curricular offerings at Columbia that engage with these cross-cutting themes, rising up to the challenge of the climate crisis. Scholars will benefit from early-stage feedback on new climate-related research projects from colleagues in other disciplines and units in the network; this will enhance the quality, breadth and applicability, and potential scholarly and public policy impact of new work emanating from Columbia. Consolidation of the working group would be achieved through regular meetings, as well as workshops or presentations. This would provide a unique and valuable opportunity to workshop early research ideas and receive feedback from an interdisciplinary group of academics also working on the topic of climate justice. Additionally, the working group could allow faculty and researchers to more easily develop collaborative and interdisciplinary academic projects that address topics of climate justice. We envision new projects and trans-disciplinary climate proposals that are timely and that match ongoing changes to the federal funding strategies toward cross-cutting climate solution research (e.g., the NSF, DOE, and NOAA).
Three Year Work Plan
In the first year, the network intends to consolidate the core working group through monthly sessions and exploratory seminars. During this time, members of the working group will workshop and discuss early research designs and receive comments and feedback from other network members; members interested in developing collaborative projects will benefit from opportunities to get to know scholars across disciplines and units at Columbia. Members will also workshop plans for curricular innovations in the domain of climate change and climate justice, and receive interdisciplinary feedback from other group members. During the second year, members of the core working group will work on their research and curricular projects, and will meet regularly to share updates and receive feedback from network members. During meetings, members will present the findings of their research and receive interdisciplinary feedback on their work. The group will also engage with a wider range of participants in the university by organizing workshops and seminars in which speakers present work on the topics of the network theme. At the end of the year, the network will organize a Columbia-wide workshop on “Decarbonization, Climate Resilience, and Climate Justice.” This workshop will help expand the network by drawing in other faculty and researchers interested in the theme of climate justice as it pertains to resilience and decarbonization. Group members developing curricular and pedagogical offerings may begin offering courses this year. In the third year, members will share the results of their research and curricular projects with group members and with members of the broader CU community. At the end of the year, the network will organize a larger open conference engaging with NYC-based climate researchers, journalists, activists, green-tech entrepreneurs, alongside representatives of public policy organizations and think tanks. The conference will also provide a venue for working group members to disseminate research findings and discuss major themes developed over the course of their collaborations. Concurrently, working group members will pursue the publication of their research projects in scholarly outlets, communicate findings to the broader public, and will begin offering undergraduate and graduate curricular offerings at Columbia on climate change. To summarize, we aim to build an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the theme of climate justice and committed to principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion; hold regular meetings and seminars in which cutting-edge research is developed and proposed; provide a platform for researchers to formulate collaborative proposals for funding from external sources; advance curricular development at the undergraduate and graduate levels; and organize a university-wide workshop in the second year and a large open conference in the third year.
Resources and Toolkits Please follow this link to access the network’s shared folder. Please email Rebecca Marwege. Interdisciplinary Articles/ Interesting Reads The following articles and books may be of interest to the group. They do not purport to reflect the opinion of the members or the network. * 2010: Oberberg, Gunilla. Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies: A Primer. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. * 11/17/2021: The Divestment - Delusion https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/africa/2021-08-31/divestment-delusion * 11/03/2021: Leah Aronowosky piece in ‘New York Review of Books’: https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/11/03/the-limits-of-climate-change-litigation/
March 20, 6 - 7:30 pm
Panel discussion with the Women in Water Diplomacy Network
March 28, 2023
Climate Tech: Why It Needs the Humanities and Social Sciences
April 25, 2023
Just Transition or Just a Transition? The Importance of Power, Organizing, and Framing in Decarbonization
Friday, March 31st, 2023. Investigating the relationship between climate justice, resilience, and decarbonization, this conference seeks to address pressing and often-times transdisciplinary questions by spotlighting the expertise of Columbia scholars working on these topics. We invite submissions from graduate students, post-docs, and faculty that work on related themes in the natural, and social sciences, and humanities. Please submit your abstracts here. Location to be confirmed.
Climate Book Club
Monthly Climate Book Club Meeting. Next one is planned for February 16th at 2pm. We will be reading chapters 1-2, 5-6, 9-11 of Generation Dread: Finding Purpose In An Age of Climate Crisis. Email Rebecca Marwege to join!
January 31, 2023
Another Skin: Climate Adaptation and Accountability
February 28, 2023
Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) as a Tool for Achieving Just Outcomes in the Carbon Removal Sector
* Interdisciplinary Research Workshop, December 6th from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, Room 707 (Lindsay Rogers Room) International Affairs Building * Monthly Climate Book Club Meeting. Next one is planned for December 12th at 1pm. We will be reading The Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis By Vanessa Nakate (2021). Email Rebecca Marwege to join! * Decarbonization, Climate Resilience, and Climate Justice Conference. Friday, March 24th, 2023, Room 707 (Lindsay Rogers Room) International Affairs Building. Stay tuned for more information.
* DCRJ Network Reception: November 9th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, The Heights Bar and Grill * DCRJ Network Kick-Off with Valentina Izmir
lieva, Director of the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies: October 11th from 4:00pm to 5:30pm, Room 707 (Lindsay Rogers Room) International Affairs Building * DCRJ Research Symposium: April 20th from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at Lerner 569, followed by happy hour at Ellington in the Park at 5:30pm. * Network Field Trip Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory: February 24th from 1:45pm-4:00pm ET. (In person) * Climate Related Field Trip Ideas for the Classroom Workshop: February 1st from 10-11am ET. * Climate Justice Network Mixer: Tuesday, November 23rd from 5:00pm-8:00pm ET. * Research Proposal Workshop: Tuesday, November 16th from 11:00am-12:00pm ET. * Syllabus and Curriculum Workshop: Monday, October 18th from 9-1030am ET. * Kick-Off Meeting: Monday, September 27th from 10-11am ET.
The Decarbonization, Climate Resilience and Climate Justice (DCRJ) Network invites submissions for its Columbia-internal conference to be held on Friday, March 31st, 2023 at Columbia University.
Climate change will dramatically exacerbate socio-economic inequalities both within and across countries, disproportionately impacting the marginalized. Therefore, urgent work is needed to clarify the channels via which societal actors—individuals, governments, NGOs, enterprises, and civil society groups—may resolve the equity dilemma in climate resilience efforts. In a parallel manner, justice remains front and center in our scholarly understanding of decarbonization efforts. Decarbonization depends on the generation of scientific knowledge about the processes that will reduce human emissions of greenhouse gasses and will require strategies for coordination across countries seeking to ratify effective emissions reductions agreements.
Investigating the relationship between climate justice, resilience, and decarbonization, this conference seeks to address pressing and often-times transdisciplinary questions by spotlighting the expertise of Columbia scholars working on these topics. We invite submissions from graduate students, post-docs, and faculty that work on related themes in the natural, and social sciences, and humanities.
To make a submission, please complete this form by February 3rd, 2023. Submissions should consist of a paper title and an abstract. Please also indicate if you would like to serve as a discussant. If accepted, full drafts of seminar-style conference papers must be submitted via email@example.com by March 10th, 2023.
Please email Rebecca Marwege (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
- GROUNDBREAKING PROJECT WILL DRILL INTO BEDROCK BELOW GREENLAND ICE TO UNDERSTAND PAST AND FUTURE MELTING GreenDrill, Columbia University Climate School To read more about this project, follow this link: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2020/07/16/greendrill-project-greenland-bedrock/
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