• Peter Marcotullio, Ph.D., Institute Director

    Peter Marcotullio is Professor of Geography at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY). His research interests include urban sustainable development, urban environmental transition theory, globalization and cities, urban and regional environmental planning and the relationship between urbanization and environment change. He has been affiliated with the United Nations University, the International Human Dimensions Programme and ISCU’s Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment. Prof Marcotullio has been a Coordinating Lead Author for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, a Coordinating Lead Author for the CBD Urbanization and Biodiversity Global Assessment Report and a Contributing Author for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

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  • Laxmi Ramasubramanian, Ph.D., AICP, Deputy Director & Director, Urban Sustainability Extension Service

    An architect by training, Laxmi holds a Master in City Planning degree from MIT (1991) and a PhD in Architecture from UW-Milwaukee (1998).  After completing post-doctoral research positions in Australia and New Zealand, she returned to the United States to direct the Urban Data Visualization Lab at UI-Chicago (2002–2004) before joining the faculty of Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY). She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning and a member of the doctoral faculty in the Environmental Psychology Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Laxmi directs the Hunter College Urban Sustainability Extension Service (USES), a community-university partnership program focused on solving contemporary problems using evidence-based research. USES emphasizes participatory planning, low cost interventions, and highly customized solutions that are carefully aligned to address stakeholders’ needs and interests.

    In 2013-2014, Laxmi was selected to become a Fellow of the American Council on Education (ACE). The ACE Fellows Program, established in 1965, is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible positions in college and university administration.

    Laxmi’s Fellowship Project is to develop a program and business plan to sustain the Urban Sustainability Extension Service (USES) at Hunter College, specifically to create a coherent brand identity and a university-wide commitment to urban sustainability and sustainability outreach and develop a program that is itself sustainable (resources, staffing, and a strong advisory council that brings stakeholders together).

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  • Allan Frei, Ph.D., Deputy Director

    Dr. Allan Frei, the Deputy Director of Institute, is an professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Hunter College, City University of New York. After receiving his Ph.D. from Department of Geography at Rutgers University in 1997, he spent four years at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. In 2001 Dr. Frei moved to Hunter College. Dr. Frei is a climatologist whose current research interests focus on a collaboration with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection on a project to evaluate the vulnerability of the city’s water supply to climate, and other 21st century, changes.
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  • William Solecki, Ph.D., Founding Director

    Dr. William Solecki is Professor in the Department of Geography at Hunter College – CUNY. His research interests include urban environmental change, and climate impacts and adaptation. He has served on several U.S. National Research Council committees including the Special Committee on Problems in the Environment (SCOPE).  He is a founding member of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project. He served as the co-leader of several climate impacts and land use studies in the New York metropolitan region, including the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) and the Metropolitan East Coast Assessment of Impacts of Potential Climate Variability and Change and was recently selected as a lead author of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group II, Urban Areas chapter (chapter 8). He holds in degrees in Geography from Columbia University (BA) and Rutgers University (MA, Ph.D).

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  • Douglas Price, Program Manager

    Douglas Price joined the Institute as Program Manager in 2014. He focuses on program development, fundraising and grant writing, and serves as project manager to CISC research projects. Douglas is also engaged in CISC research projects related to material and energy flows in the New York City metropolitan region, with particular emphasis on greenhouse gas emissions. He received his MS in Sustainability Management from Columbia University and his BS in Architecture from the University of Michigan.

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  • Justin Garson, PhD, Institute Fellow

    Justin Garson received his PhD in Philosophy and the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at The University of Texas at Austin in 2006. His areas of specialization are the Philosophy of Biology, with an emphasis on neuroscience and psychiatry; and Environmental Philosophy. His research has been on the relationship between neuroscience and psychiatry, the concepts of function and information in neuroscience, and on the limits of mechanistic explanation in biology. He has also published scientific research in conservation biology and works with the Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory at the University of Texas. In 2008, he and his family lived in Gulu, Northern Uganda, and worked with organizations such as Child Voice International and St. Jude’s Children’s Home to provide capacity training and medical assistance for people affected by war. Justin recently co-edited The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Biodiversity. This collection includes contributions from scientists, philosophers, and lawyers, and explores questions such as, what isbiodiversity, why should we protect it, and how can we protect it while respecting the demands of social and global justice? He also writes about how advances in biology can help us understand traditional problems of human nature.

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  • Simon Gruber, Institute Fellow

    Simon Gruber is an environmental planning and communications consultant specializing in water resources planning and protection, energy efficiency, high performance building and site design, and sustainable infrastructure. Since 1986 he’s worked with local and county government, non-profit organizations, and businesses in the Hudson Valley. Completed and ongoing projects include a county-wide stream bio-monitoring program, a decentralized wastewater planning and demonstration initiative, the Moodna Creek watershed planning process, and development of regional green building and energy education programs. Recent initiatives include green infrastructure planning for watershed restoration and community revitalization, state energy policy research and communications, and several water policy projects. His work has a growing focus on job opportunities in these sectors and developing relevant training resources. His collaboration with CISC began in 2006 with a regional initiative to address climate change impacts on water resources. Contact sgruber100@verizon.net or go to the Green Infrastructure Resources page at www.hudsonvalleyregionalcouncil.com for more.

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  • John Waldman, Ph.D., Institute Fellow

    Dr. Waldman is the leading researcher on the City by the Coast Core Program Area. He is professor of biology at Queens College, City University of New York. Prior to this appointment in 2004, he was employed for 20 years by the Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research. He received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the Joint Program in Evolutionary Biology between the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York. His research interests focus on the ecology and evolution of fishes, particularly diadromous forms, urban aquatic environments, and historical ecology. He also is author of several popular books, including Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor.

    Read Dr. Waldman’s extended bio at Queens College: http://qcpages.qc.edu/Biology/Waldman/index.html

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  • Richard Reiss, Institute Fellow

    Richard Reiss is a research fellow in communications, and is the co-founder and editor of City Atlas, the Institute’s partnership for public communications about the future of New York City. City Atlas launched with a Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund award in October, 2011. Over 100 interns from schools including CUNY, NYU, Columbia, Barnard, Princeton and Yale have worked on City Atlas since then, and the project contains over 900 posts about the past, present and future New York City. Richard is also a founder of Artist As Citizen, a nonprofit arts organization that links top young creative talent with projects in the public interest (and which provided teams for the development of City Atlas). Prior to developing nonprofit media, Richard worked as a director of television commercials, and is a member of the DGA. He received a BA in Architecture from Yale University, he is a board member of the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance, and he is currently collaborating with students at Yale in developing the Yale Decarbonization Challenge, which works to educate students and alumni on how to begin to decarbonize their own lifestyles to help meet the 2°C target of the UNFCCC.

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  • Dylan Gauthier, Research Fellow: Digital Media and Environmental Art

    Dylan Gauthier joined the Institute as Media Coordinator and Webmaster, building the CISC website and facilitating digital media production and development, since late 2010, and currently works with the Institute as a Fellow in Digital Media.  Dylan is a media artist, designer and educator and has worked as a media consultant, graphic, web and video designer and logistical engineer for non-profit and arts organizations and social justice groups in New York and abroad, and has collaborated with Right to the City initiatives and urban food sustainability and educational groups here in New York City.  He received his MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College in 2012, and currently teaches courses in the Film and Media Department. In addition to his work as a media artist and designer, Dylan also co-organizes Mare Liberum (thefreeseas.org) which seeks to find new ways to increase public access to and understanding of the city’s complex eco-network of living waterways.

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  • Dr. William Solecki Coauthors “Landmark” UN Report on Climate Change

    Institute for Sustainable Cities Founding Director Dr. William Solecki Coauthors “Landmark” UN Report on Climate Change

    A new report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounds a sobering alarm about the risks of climate change, but Institute for Sustainable Cities Founding Director Dr. William Solecki remains hopeful: “The window of opportunity is open,” says Dr. Solecki, one of the report’s contributors and the author of its first chapter. In an interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered,” however, Solecki stressed that taking advantage of that opportunity requires immediate action: “We need to act to lessen the likelihood of more significant warming and more significant impacts. There’s clear evidence that action now could forestall greater impacts in the future.”

    Professor Solecki is a professor of geography at Hunter College and one of the world’s foremost experts on urban environmental change. As a member of IPCC, a coalition with 193 member countries, Professor Solecki serves alongside other eminent scientists and experts and his research has profoundly influenced international environmental policy.

    Released on October 8, 2018, the IPCC report describes the potential effects on the environment if the atmosphere’s temperature rises more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – which is projected to occur by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to be released at the current rate. It also examines the ripple effects those environmental changes might have on human health, economies and societies.

    The report, which the New York Times called “landmark,” has been in the works for more than a year, drawing on more than 6,000 scientific studies and reflecting the expertise of 86 authors from 39 countries. Its release is sparking a reinvigorated call for action by policymakers, corporations, and citizens. The report’s importance, says The New Yorker, “is hard to overstate.” Unless immediate steps are taken, ecosystems will vanish, species will become extinct, food sources will be depleted, and people will lose their homes. Despite these daunting challenges, Professor Solecki thinks these crises can be averted if they are met with an appropriately urgent response.

    Professor Solecki, who joined the Hunter faculty in 2003 and served as co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, views his participation in IPCC as one of the most important accomplishments of his career. Although nation-states were the primary audience for the IPCC report, Solecki cites increasing mobilization by non-state groups, international organizations, and even local and state actors as cause for optimism, explaining: “It’s in that context of widespread engagement where the possibility for collective action emerges.”

    The press release from the IPCC announcing the report is below.



    8 October 2018


    Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC approved by governments

    INCHEON, Republic of Korea, 8 Oct – Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5C compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

    The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

    “With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

    Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

    The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

    “One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

    The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5 °C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.

    “Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” added Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

    Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5ºC, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

    “The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5C are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.

    The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

    “Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

    Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5ºC by 2100. The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

    “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

    The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future, said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

    “This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” she said.

    The IPCC is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options.

    The report was prepared under the scientific leadership of all three IPCC working groups. Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addresses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III deals with the mitigation of climate change.

    The Paris Agreement adopted by 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015 included the aim to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

    As part of the decision to adopt the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was invited to produce, in 2018, a Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The IPCC accepted the invitation, adding that the Special Report would look at these issues in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

    Global Warming of 1.5ºC is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle. Next year the IPCC will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, which looks at how climate change affects land use.

    The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents the key findings of the Special Report, based on the assessment of the available scientific, technical and socio-economic literature relevant to global warming of 1.5°C.

    The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC (SR15) is available at https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15 or www.ipcc.ch. See separate Fact Sheet of Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers, available at https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2018/07/sr15_headline_statements.pdf.


    Key statistics of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC [with infographics]

    91 authors from 44 citizenships and 40 countries of residence

    • 14 Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs)
    • 60 Lead authors (LAs)
    • 17 Review Editors (REs)

    133 Contributing authors (CAs)

    Over 6,000 cited references

    A total of 42,001 expert and government review comments

    (First Order Draft 12,895; Second Order Draft 25,476; Final Government Draft: 3,630)


    For more information, contact:

    IPCC Press Office, Email: ipcc-media@wmo.int

    Werani Zabula +41 79 108 3157 or Nina Peeva +41 79 516 7068

    IPCC Working Group I Technical Support Unit:

    Roz Pidcock, +44 7746 515669

    Follow IPCC on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram


    Notes for editors

    The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC , known as SR15, is being prepared in response to an invitation from the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, when they reached the Paris Agreement, and will inform the Talanoa Dialogue at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24). The Talanoa Dialogue will take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement, and to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions. Details of the report, including the approved outline, can be found on the report page.  The report is being prepared under the joint scientific leadership of all three IPCC Working Groups, with support from the Working Group I Technical Support Unit.


    What is the IPCC?

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. It has 195 member states.

    IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC assessments are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change. IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency.

    The IPCC assesses the thousands of scientific papers published each year to tell policymakers what we know and don’t know about the risks related to climate change. The IPCC identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community, where there are differences of opinion, and where further research is needed. It does not conduct its own research.

    To produce its reports, the IPCC mobilizes hundreds of scientists. These scientists and officials are drawn from diverse backgrounds. Only a dozen permanent staff work in the IPCC’s Secretariat.

    The IPCC has three working groups: Working Group I, dealing with the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II, dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change. It also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories that develops methodologies for measuring emissions and removals.

    IPCC Assessment Reports consist of contributions from each of the three working groups and a Synthesis Report. Special Reports undertake an assessment of cross-disciplinary issues that span more than one working group and are shorter and more focused than the main assessments.


    Sixth Assessment Cycle

    At its 41st Session in February 2015, the IPCC decided to produce a Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). At its 42nd Session in October 2015 it elected a new Bureau that would oversee the work on this report and Special Reports to be produced in the assessment cycle. At its 43rd Session in April 2016, it decided to produce three Special Reports, a Methodology Report and AR6.

    The Methodology Report to refine the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories will be delivered in 2019. Besides Global Warming of 1.5ºC, the IPCC will finalize two further special reports in 2019: the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The AR6 Synthesis Report will be finalized in the first half of 2022, following the three working group contributions to AR6 in 2021.


    For more information, including links to the IPCC reports, go to: www.ipcc.ch

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