U of M experts available to discuss upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris

November 23, 2015

World leaders will gather in Paris starting November 30 for a two-week-long United Nations climate change conference known as COP 21.

In the lead-up to the conference, the University of Minnesota was among more than 200 university and college campuses to sign the White House American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge demonstrating support for strong climate action by world leaders during COP 21. As part of this pledge, President Eric Kaler noted that the University is committed to reducing carbon emissions 50 percent by the end of 2020; making all campuses carbon neutral by 2050; preparing students to understand the causes and impacts of climate change through the emerging Grand Challenges curriculum; and supporting research and creative capacity to develop sustainable cities and resilient communities and to provide secure food, water, and energy in a carbon-constrained world and changing climate.

In addition to the pledge, experts from the University will be attending and participating in the deliberations and will be available to comment in advance or from on the ground in Paris.

University conference participants available for interviews include:

Ellen Anderson
Executive Director, Energy Transition Lab, and Associate Adjunct Faculty, Law School
Anderson is available to explain what COP 21 means and why it is relevant to Minnesotans in particular. Her areas of expertise include energy law and policy with a focus on Minnesota, renewable energy and climate change. 

Jack DeWaard
Assistant Professor, Sociology, and Graduate Faculty in Population Studies, Minnesota Population Center
DeWaard’s research focuses on the causes, characteristics and consequences of human migration, and increasingly has focused on migration and population displacement caused by environmental conditions and climate change.

Jessica Hellmann
Director, Institute on the Environment
Hellmann’s research focuses on global change ecology and climate adaptation. She also studies differences in the way populations of plants and animals respond to climate change. She’ll be participating in several high-level events during COP 21, including one focused on the role of the private sector in managing climate risk and measuring the effectiveness of current adaptation strategies.

Arne Kildegaard
Professor of Economics and Management, University of Minnesota, Morris
Kildegaard is available to discuss the climate change negotiations process, the economic costs of climate change, the economic costs of the switch to a low-carbon energy future, renewable energy, energy conservation and energy economics.

Kate Knuth
Program Director, Boreas Leadership Program, Institute on the Environment
Knuth, who also attended COP 15 in Copenhagen and COP 16 in Cancún, is available to provide context as to why the COP process matters and how things have changed since earlier meetings. She is attending COP 21 to interview leaders of the climate movement and can comment on interactions with civil society. As a former Minnesota legislator, she can relate local policy-making to what's happening in Paris.

Beth Mercer-Taylor
Sustainability Education Coordinator, Institute on the Environment
Mercer-Taylor’s expertise includes higher education responses to climate change in sustainability academic programs; campus operations; student life and co-curricular programs; city-level carbon reduction and sustainability efforts; and the intersections between activism in climate change and work on equity and inclusivity.

Hari Osofsky
Professor, University of Minnesota Law School; Faculty Director, Energy Transition Lab; and Fellow, Institute on the Environment
Osofsky is an expert on climate change and energy law, with more than 50 publications on those topics with leading presses and journals.  Her research focuses on the regulatory impact of climate change litigation, the role of local action in addressing climate change and possibilities for scaling it up, regional implementation of the Clean Power Plan, spurring corporate energy transition through asset and investment shifting, possibilities for bipartisan collaboration on climate change and energy in a partisan environment, and Arctic offshore drilling and renewable energy.

Elizabeth J. Wilson
Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Fellow, Institute on the Environment
Wilson has expertise in energy policy, energy transitions, smart grids, renewable energy and civil society events such as the Paris negotiations. She studies how institutions support and thwart energy system transitions and focuses on the interplays among technology innovation, policy creation and institutional decision making.

To connect with experts, please contact Todd Reubold at treubold@umn.edu or Lacey Nygard at ljnygard@umn.edu.

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