This summer, the Earth Institute launched the Global Network for Climate Solutions (GNCS), a research-driven effort to inform and promote international climate change negotiations and activities on a country-by-country basis. Since then, the GNCS has begun facilitating the design of specific adaptation and mitigation efforts through a virtual network of international experts, universities, government agencies, research centers and private sector actors. With complementary programs to mitigate climate change and provide adaptation strategies for a changing climate, the program was founded with support from the Planet Heritage Foundation and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. The GNCS is overseen by Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs, and managed by the Columbia Climate Center.
The Adaptation Program has begun engaging directly with about two dozen developing country institutes, supporting their work to find adaptation solutions in a variety of agro-ecological and economic contexts in countries such as Chile, India, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, and Uganda. By utilizing a wide array of materials, the program has created a number of country adaptation profiles, and is developing “knowledge modules” that will help synthesize and organize the best available science for specific adaptation topics. A comprehensive online resource library containing this information will be launched in the coming weeks. The Adaptation Program is also developing methods for systematic assessment and comparison of the costs and benefits of adaptation options across regions and sectors. These will help national governments and donors compare adaptation solutions and costs, as well as provide the private sector with improved information for investments. The Adaptation Program will also promote the uptake of these solutions by encouraging governmental and private sector initiatives to support them. This component is built on the expertise of the Earth Institute’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), and is headed by Shiv Someshwar, director of IRI’s Asia and Pacific program and director of its global Institutions and Policy Systems activities.
The Mitigation Program aims to help countries reduce greenhouse emissions by addressing individual technologies, sectors and gases. It has developed a template to facilitate comparisons of reduction plans across countries to help decision makers understand how sources of emissions and potential reductions fit together. The template is designed to identify sectors in which the most rapid progress can be made, and to identify potential bottlenecks and barriers. To date, a network of partners in China, the European Union, Japan, Mexico and the United States has played a critical role in providing data for the template. Using this network and the template, the mitigation program plans to provide material that will help develop new negotiation strategies for forming effective international agreements and encourage the use of these strategies to improve the international negotiation process. The Mitigation Program is headed by Scott Barrett, an expert in international agreements, and the Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Efforts to develop an international agreement to reduce emissions have so far failed, and little progress has been made in helping developing countries formulate effective adaptation strategies. The GNCS is working to provide solutions based on a combination of the best available science and place-based knowledge, and to propel solutions through a transparent process that engages academia and public and private spheres.