A multimillion-dollar gift from the Lenfest Foundation has enabled the Earth Institute at Columbia University to establish the Global Roundtable on Climate Change. The GROCC will bring together 100 to 150 stakeholders -- CEOs, heads of state and leaders of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations -- from around the world to fashion a consensus on issues critical to shaping public policy on climate change.
Founding members include Jeffrey Sachs; Jeffrey R. Immelt, chair of the board and chief executive officer of General Electric; Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, president of Iceland; Gary Comer, chair and founder of Land's End; R.K. Pachauri, chair of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); and Tim Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation.
"The best science in the world points to major risks from global climate change, including species extinction, extreme weather events such as hurricanes and drought, melting glaciers and a rising sea level," says Sachs. "Four fifths of the world's population live in developing countries, and billions of the world's poor reside in low-lying coastal areas and in the tropics, places extremely vulnerable to man-made climate change. The GROCC will be a unique opportunity to take up the interlocking issues of climate, development and global energy."
The roundtable will meet twice a year for three years; the first meeting is scheduled for May 11 at Columbia. The roundtable will be supported by four technical working groups: climate science and impacts; engineering and technology; economics and policy; and public opinion and values. The groups will be composed of leading experts from the academic, private and public sectors and will provide background information, offer expert consultation and draft reports specifically requested by GROCC members.
The climate science and impacts team will be chaired by Wallace S. Broecker, Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences. His recent textbook, Fossil Fuel CO 2 and the Angry Climate Beast (Eldigio Press, 2004), warns of climate system sensitivity to environmental jolts. Klaus S. Lackner, Ewing/Worzel Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, will chair the engineering and technology group. And the economics and policy team will be chaired by Sachs. Elke U. Weber, Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business, will chair the public opinion and values working group.
The project's steering committee will include many Columbia senior faculty members and researchers, including Wallace Broecker, Mark Cane, David Downie, Hurst Groves, Jim Hansen, Geoff Heal, David Krantz, Klaus Lackner, John Mutter, David Nissen, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Peter Schlosser and Steve Zebiak. David Downie will serve as director of GROCC and oversee the day-to-day project management.