The Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) at Princeton University has concluded its seventh year. We continue to enter the global discussion of global climate change through several portals, and our effectiveness as participants increases with our experience and staying power. Dramatic changes in Washington in 2007 made our work more valued close to home, and a much broader acceptance of tough global mitigation goals around the world made our work more pertinent than ever.
The Capture Group has sparked a new and deepening discussion of the potential of co-gasification of coal and biomass to transform the biomass energy agenda. Deeply technical collaborations with our counterparts in Italy, China and bp were remarkably fruitful. The Storage Group has made great progress in modeling both well-scale and basin-scale issues for carbon storage, and is beginning to provide practical tools for quantitative assessments of leakage risks in realistic CCS settings. The Science Group is completing the final steps in creating a Carbon Observing System, continues to narrow uncertainties in estimates of natural carbon sources and sinks, and is making an increasingly strong case for the role of the Southern Ocean in glacial-interglacial changes. The Integration Group began a new effort whose goal is to break the North-South policy logjam by reframing mitigation as requiring equivalent actions for individuals with the same lifestyles, wherever they live and specifically irrespective of the per capita income of their country. Our outreach effort in 2007 included our playing a version of the wedges with 400 people as the featured event at the Town Hall of the AAAS annual meeting, the largest science meeting in the United States each year.
Our Co-Directors continue to promote exploration of the climate-energy nexus both within the university and in the wider community. Steve Pacala, now the Director of the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), is working to consolidate environmentally-oriented science and policy initiatives across campus with Princeton’s new “Grand Challenges” program. He has also led creation of a non-profit organization called “Climate Central” to serve as an objective source of information on climate and energy for the media, the policy and business communities, and the general public. And, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Co-Director Rob Socolow now heads the Energy, Climate, and Security Grand Challenge at Princeton. In 2007, among his invited talks were remarks at a plenary meeting of the U.N. General Asssembly on climate change and at a retreat for the Executive Directors of the World Bank. He also served on the committee: “Grand Challenges in Engineering,” of the National Academy of Engineering and now serves on the National Academies’ committee, “America’s Energy Future,” which, with the next President as its perceived client, is reviewing near-term options that can begin a transformation of the U.S. energy system.
Finally, Princeton in 2007 was graced by the presence of visiting faculty member Ian Vann, the first bp-Vann Fellow. Students raved about his undergraduate course, ENV 311 – Business of Oil and Gas: A Global Perspective, where they could share his real-world experiences and insights. Vann’s appetite for serious discussion across a wide range of topics enriched the lives of faculty and students with interests in all aspects of the energy agenda.