Yesterday marked another milestone in the climate change sector as the world witnessed the celebration of MIT’s first-ever Climate Grand Challenges with the five most promising concepts emerging from the two-year competition – the five flagship projects. The Climate Grand Challenges showcase event called for collective mitigation, adaptation, policies, and strategies that can help the world avert the worst consequences of climate change.
The event was held at the Samberg Conference Center with over 300 faculty, researchers, students, government officials, industry leaders in attendance, and thousands of participants who joined online.
The event kicked off with a conversation about climate policy between MIT President L. Rafael Reif and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry, followed by presentations from each of the five winning flagship teams, and a panel of experts who discussed how to get from ideas to impact at scale as quickly as possible.
In their discussion, the MIT President noted that the Climate Grand Challenges was initiated in 2020 to focus on the daring creativity and pioneering expertise of the MIT community on the urgent problem of climate change and make meaningful contributions to the global climate response through a transformative new research agenda at MIT called the flagship projects.
Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jack Little, CEO and co-founder of MathWorks; Arati Prabhakar, president of Actuate and former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Katie Rae, president, and managing director of The Engine were on the panel discussion, which was moderated by Alicia Barton, president, and CEO of FirstLight Power.
The significance of marshaling the necessary resources and forming cross-sector collaborations to scale the technologies developed by the flagship teams and deliver them to the world in time to make a difference was discussed during the debate.
The speakers discussed how to modify public perceptions about finance, legislation, business, and community adoption in order to accelerate large shifts in energy generation, transportation, and other major carbon-emitting industries.
They emphasized the significance of policies that address climate change’s economic, equity, and public health implications, as well as reinventing supply chains and manufacturing to quickly and economically create and disseminate these technologies.
Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, tasks philanthropists and financiers to invest in this global initiative, as well as firms, governments, and others.
In the end, Associate Provost for International Activities Richard Lester reinforced this statement by saying: “Every one of us needs to put our shoulder to the wheel at the points where our leverage is maximized — where we can do what we’re best at.”