Announcing the MIT Climate Symposia

October 2, 2018
Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research, 2013–2024 |

To the members of the MIT community,

I write to announce an important step in MIT’s efforts to better understand and address the problem of climate change. During the 2019–2020 academic year, MIT will host approximately six symposia that address some of the major global climate challenges that have been the focus of the MIT Plan for Action on Climate Change (for short, the climate action plan, or CAP), announced in October 2015.

President Reif has appointed an MIT Climate Symposia Organizing Committee to manage the symposia program. Its members will solicit symposium topic proposals from the Climate Action Advisory Committee; the MIT Energy Initiative; the Environmental Solutions Initiative; faculty, students, and postdocs who have been involved in CAP activities; and the MIT community broadly. The Organizing Committee will then select a set of topics and, after consultation with interested MIT organizations, invite participants  representing a range of views and experiences from industry, government, and nongovernmental organizations.

The following faculty members will constitute the Organizing Committee:

  • Paul L. Joskow, Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics Emeritus, Department of Economics (Chair)
  • John M. Deutch, Institute Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry
  • Kerry A. Emanuel, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Atmospheric Science, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
  • Paula T. Hammond, David H. Koch Professor of Engineering and Department Head, Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Colette L. Heald, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
  • Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab
  • Ernest J. Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems Emeritus, Department of Physics
  • Richard Schmalensee, Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management and Professor of Economics Emeritus, Sloan School of Management and Department of Economics
  • Evelyn N. Wang, Gail E. Kendall Professor and Department Head, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research and E.A. Griswold Professor of Atmospheric Physics, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (ex officio)

The Organizing Committee will designate one of its members or a leading expert to moderate each of the symposia. The symposia discussions will be informed by the results of the five-year CAP and will provide an opportunity for substantive engagement among members of the MIT community, industry leaders, and policy makers on technology advances, economic analyses, industry strategies, and public policy options to facilitate the efficient transition to a low-carbon economy.

The MIT Climate Symposia cycle will end in 2020, the fifth anniversary of both the release of MIT’s Climate Action Plan and of the Paris climate agreement, when countries will submit new or enhanced climate plans.

MIT’s mission commits us to advancing knowledge, educating students, and bringing our knowledge to bear for the betterment of humankind. We are launching these climate symposia in furtherance of that mission. I hope that all members of our community will take the opportunity presented by this series to learn more about these critical issues and to engage with colleagues to advance MIT’s efforts to address the climate challenges confronting our planet.


Maria T. Zuber
Vice President for Research