Dead & Co concert proceeds fund climate solutions

The 2030 Project has launched its new Climate Solutions Fund, which aims to catalyze large-scale, impactful climate research across Cornell and is made possible in part by proceeds from the Dead & Company concert in May at Barton Hall. The call for proposals is open now; the application deadline is March 29, 2024.

The 2030 Project: A Cornell Climate Initiative, which is administered by the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, has also announced its second round of Research-to-Impact Fast Grants for 2023. Proceeds from the Dead & Company concert also funded this year’s 15 grants, which support 36 researchers across nine colleges and units. Awarded researchers are evaluating clean energy subsidy policies, improving weather balloon forecasting, utilizing captured carbon in pharmaceutical manufacturing and more.

“The 2030 Project is accelerating faculty-led climate research at Cornell that harnesses expertise across colleges and disciplines to support human flourishing, while minimizing harmful climate impacts,” said Ben Furnas ’06, executive director of the 2030 Project.

The new Climate Solutions Fund seeks to accelerate efforts in the 2030 Project research priority pillars: food and farms energy systems, and materials and societies of the future. Grants will be awarded in the range of $100,000 to $200,000.

This is the second year that the 2030 Project has awarded Research-to-Impact Fast Grants. Fast Grants are between $10,000 and $25,000 and are intended to serve as seed funding for new ideas, or as bridge funding between larger grants. Fast Grants awarded this year:

  • Offsetting Methane Emissions With Biological Methane Consumption. Researchers will investigate an enzymatic step that is shared between microbial methane producers and consumers, in hopes of deploying microbe-based solutions to mitigate emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Expanding Weather Data Coverage With Optimization-based Balloon Navigation. Through a partnership between Cornell and the weather balloon startup WindBorne Systems, this project will develop algorithms to improve weather balloon navigation, enhance coverage in less-studied areas and address challenges such as uncertain wind forecasts and limited budgets.
  • Assessing the Roles of Industrial Policy and Trade Policy in the Market for Renewable Energy. Researchers will measure the impact of industrial policy on climate change mitigation by analyzing global renewable energy subsidies, comparing their stated goals with actual impacts and formulating policy recommendations to guide institutions in resolving disputes related to renewable energy policy.
  • Advancing Electrolyzer Technology for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation With Agricultural Anaerobic Digesters. This project seeks to advance a technology that converts greenhouse gases from farms into some of the essential building blocks for creating pharmaceuticals. The researchers aim to prove the technology by demonstrating successful operation with real-world biogas sources.
  • Building a NYS Circular Construction Economy: A Policy Action Plan. Researchers seek to address the environmental impact of the built environment – responsible for roughly 40% of global CO2 emissions – by proposing legislation for New York state that encourages practices such as deconstruction, salvage and reuse, and fosters a circular construction economy.
  • Mapping Global Emissions From Food and Agriculture. This project will update and expand a widely used dataset to map the economic and environmental impacts of livestock, crops and aquaculture, to inform consumers and policymakers.
  • Preserving Public Health Amid Environmental Crises. Researchers will create a public health surveillance system linked to climatological triggers, like heat and cold waves, by developing a computational model that incorporates community-specific strengths and vulnerabilities, such as health care capacity, to address the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
  • Harnessing the Power of Electrochemistry to Upgrade CO2 to Pharmaceuticals. This project will spearhead new technologies using carbon dioxide as a sustainable carbon source for pharmaceutical building blocks, partnering with Snapdragon Chemistry to transition its lab discoveries into scalable industrial processes and improve the sustainability of pharmaceutical production.
  • Ensuring Reliability in the Energy Transition. Researchers will address the stresses on national electricity supplies posed by increasingly extreme weather events, focusing on elucidating operational and market issues in electrical resource management and designing mechanisms to facilitate a secure, economically efficient transition to clean energy.
  • Forest Farms for Climate Resilient Ecosystems in the Colombian Amazon. This project will assess the impacts of Colombia’s climate policy incentivizing 1.2 million hectares of agroforestry and forest restoration. Researchers will evaluate changes in biodiversity in the Colombian Amazon using bioacoustics and machine learning.
  • Methanotrophic Biofilters for Mitigating Methane Emissions From Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells. This project aims to mitigate methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells by developing and deploying affordable, biologically based methane-oxidizing filters. Researchers will conduct lab experiments and take field-based measurements of abandoned wells in western New York.
  • Symposium on Accelerating Project Approvals Through Updating New York City’s Traffic Analysis Methods. Cornell researchers and external partners seek to advance a collaboration among officials and experts that would use improved traffic-analysis methods to streamline regulatory processes, including New York’s City Environmental Quality Review.
  • Enabling Clean and Efficient Energy Conversion From Carbon-neutral and Locally Available Fuels. Researchers will develop robust burners that can convert gases from nearly any locally available fuel source, such as landfills, sewage treatment facilities, ammonia and hydrogen, into renewable energy. Variations in chemical composition and source impurities have traditionally limited use of such fuel sources; this project seeks to address that challenge.
  • Changes in Shipping Emissions as Natural Analogues for Climate Intervention. This project seeks to understand how new regulations that reduced sulfate in global shipping fuels may have influenced climate models and weather systems. Sulfur dioxide is a harmful air pollutant, but it also reflects sunlight and aids cloud formation, both of which serve climate-cooling purposes.
  • Designing Research Solar Farms to Accelerate Sustainable Solar Development.

As development of solar farms competes with agriculture for prime rural land, researchers will develop a solar farm on Cornell’s Ithaca campus. The farm will host both agriculture and solar energy systems, to better understand the practical engineering, design, regulatory and safety logistics involved in creating such a facility.

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