Academic Year 2017-2018

Rutgers Climate Symposium 2017: Climate Change and Cities



Almost 200 students, post-docs, faculty and staff from academic institutions in our region participated in Rutgers Climate Symposium 2017 in which the theme was Climate Change and Cities. The tag line, "Wherever the world is going cities will get there first" is a nod to the slogan "Wherever American cities are going, Newark will get there first" touted by then Newark mayor, Kenneth Gibson almost 40 years ago. Participants were treated to an inspiring keynote by Rutgers alum, Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig,of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies where she heads the Climate Impacts Group. Dr. Rosenzweig stressed how key cities are to the responding to climate change in terms of both reducing carbon emissions as well as adapting to climate change. She noted that the Paris Climate Agreement recognizes cities as important stakeholders in achieving climate action in agreeing to promote regional and international cooperation. She pointed out that more than 7,100 cities from 119 countries participate in the global covenant of mayors for climate change representing 8% of the world's population and that cities have more direct contact and day to day responsibility for taking governance action to address climate change.

A plenary panel included Nilda Mesa, Director of Urban Sustainability and Equity Planning, Earth Institute, Urban Design Lab, Columbia University; Julie Pullen, Associate Professor of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology and William Solecki, Professor of Geography, Hunter College. In addition to their presentations, the plenary panelists discussed the exciting opportunities for transdisciplinary collaborations between natural and social scientists, noting however, that different disciplines use distinct terminology so that when working across disciplines, collaborators need to ensure they are using common terms. In addition, the panelists discussed the importance of testing assumptions with field work and understanding the culture of a place to inform policy decisions.

Posters were presented by researchers from not only Rutgers but institutions across the region . The event provided an excellent opportunity to foster collaboration on climate change scholarship in our region.