The Harvard Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability announced grants to five research groups featuring 30 faculty members from across the University on Monday, marking the first projects funded by the Salata Institute since its establishment in fall 2022.
The research groups, part of the newly-established Climate Research Clusters program at the Salata Institute, include faculty members from eight of Harvard’s schools, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Business School.
“All of these projects are focused on having real-world constructive impact in terms of moving forward — real world problems associated with climate change,” said Salata Institute Director James H. Stock, who also serves as Harvard’s vice provost for climate and sustainability.
Two projects focus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions: one by reducing global methane emissions and the other by examining corporate net-zero pledges. Another two projects study the negative consequences of climate change in specific regions of the world, and the last studies the impact of a clean energy transition on areas of the United States dependent on the extraction of fossil fuels.
In selecting the research groups, the institute required all teams to work across different Harvard schools and considered the project’s potential for innovation and real-world impact, according to Stock.
Harvard Kennedy School professor Robert N. Stavins, the lead researcher of the project studying methane emissions, lauded the Salata Institute for fostering research collaborations at the University. Stavins said tackling climate change requires interdisciplinary research and collaboration with faculty from other disciplines.
“What the Salata Institute is doing, which is very significant in the long history of Harvard University, is that they’re bringing together faculty, absolutely across the university, to work together on climate change and other problems of sustainability,” he said. “That’s a remarkable development.”
Carrie F. Jenks, executive director of the HLS Environmental and Energy Law Program and a member of the research cluster evaluating corporate net-zero projects, said her research relies heavily on perspectives from other disciplines.
“From a legal perspective, we work on regulations, for example, at EPA,” she said. “We’re always looking to other experts to build a regulatory record, whether that be energy market experts or public health experts or climate change experts or engineers thinking about what technologies can you use to control greenhouse gasses.”
The research that the clusters produce aims to produce practical solutions for climate problems and inform policy decisions. Stock emphasized the importance of engaging with all stakeholders affected by climate change in developing climate solutions.
Three projects will conduct research in local areas impacted by climate change, including two examining climate adaptation in the Gulf of Guinea and South Asia, respectively.
“Working closely with local communities so that there’s an enduring and constructive engagement, and allowing Harvard to contribute in areas where it has strengths — but making sure that it’s done in a way that really works for the local communities — is incredibly important,” Stock said.
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