Morningside Campus Access Updates

Updated July 10, 2024

The following color-coded campus status levels have been developed to simplify communication regarding the current circumstances on and around the Morningside campus. The campus status level is based upon the potential disruption to our academic mission and/or campus operations. The status level will be adjusted up or down to reflect then-current circumstances, including information received from law enforcement and other sources regarding potential events that could affect Columbia. Continued adherence to university rules and policies remains fundamental to maintaining an open campus. Read more.



Explore our expert insights and analysis in leading energy and climate news stories.

Energy Explained

Get the latest as our experts share their insights on global energy policy.


Hear in-depth conversations with the world’s top energy and climate leaders from government, business, academia, and civil society.


Find out more about our upcoming and past events.

Columbia Energy Exchange

World Bank Approach on Climate Change Evolves


Axel van Trotsenburg

Senior Managing Director, World Bank


Jim Skea: We provide advice not only in climate change, but climate action as well. And there are things we can do. So it’s two sides of the same coin. We need to emphasize the urgency, but we also need to emphasize that. Urgency does not mean inaction. It says quite the opposite. It means that there’s a very strong case for taking action urgently and on quite a rapid scale if these risks are going to be addressed.


Bill Loveless: On the heels of the UN climate talks in Dubai, governments around the world are left with expectations to contribute to collective climate action. Most notably, the recommendation to transition away from fossil fuels has sparked significant debate on how to embed climate action into policy. For over three decades, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has prepared comprehensive scientific assessments about the drivers and risks of climate change. The assessments released every five to seven years also explain how mitigation and adaptation could reduce those risks.

To confront the growing urgency of the climate crisis, governments around the world turn to the IPCC for guidance on emissions reduction strategies. That said, the IPCC makes clear that its research is not meant to be prescriptive. So how do its findings, support climate policy and action around the world? What role does science play in shaping global climate negotiations and what are the main focuses for the IPCC in its newest assessment cycle?

This is Columbia Energy Exchange, a weekly podcast from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. I’m Bill Loveless.

Today on the show, Jim Skea. Professor Skea is the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Before his election as chair in July 2023, he was the co-chair of Working Group III of the IPCC, which focuses on climate change mitigation. He also served as the chair of Scotland’s Just Transition Commission from 2018 to 2023, and was a founding member of the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change. The Chairman has also been a professor of sustainable energy at the Imperial College of London since 2009.

Professor Skea joined us from his office in London to talk about his work leading the IPCC through its current seventh assessment cycle. It’s slated to run until 2030. We discussed how the organization’s research can contribute to public policy, why he is hopeful about the human response to climate change and how it plans to bring into the fold early career scientists from developing countries. Here’s our conversation.

Chairman Jim Skea, welcome to Columbia Energy Exchange.


Jim Skea: I’m pleased to be here. Nice to meet you, Bill.


Bill Loveless: Well, it’s nice to meet you as well, and I appreciate the time you’re taking to talk about this important work that the IPCC does and has done for a number of years now. And you’re taking on this what may be your biggest professional job. I think it goes without saying you’ve had a distinguished career in academia, government and elsewhere, and all of it has been substantial and accomplished, but this is a rather big undertaking for you. What does it feel like?


Jim Skea: Well, I mean, it’s something I have potentially been anticipating. This is my third consecutive IPCC cycle in a row. So by the time it comes to an end, I have had almost 20 consecutive years doing IPCC. So I sat during the last cycle as a co-chair of one of the working groups that looks after mitigation or reducing emissions, and I could start to anticipate what it was like to do the job. So I actually feel quite comfortable with it. But it is certainly a challenge and it’s different from anything I’ve done before, that’s for sure.


Bill Loveless: Yeah, quite a challenge it is. Well, for those who may not be entirely familiar with it, what is the IPCC and what makes its work so critical?


Jim Skea: Well, it characterizes itself as the UN body for providing advice on climate change and climate change action. It has been around for 35 years now, more than 35 years started in 1988 and it’s just starting its seventh cycle of activities. It’s not just scientists getting together. The I in IPCC stands for intergovernmental. So the governments own the process effectively and are a very important part of it. But it relies on the voluntary work of scientists to get its work done. And it’s quite unique in the sense of a collaboration between policymakers and scientists.

So when we produce our final reports, every single sentence, every single word is signed off by consensus from all the governments that turn up, and that gives it a particular authority when it comes to the climate change negotiations that take place under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Bill Loveless: And it’s a remarkable achievement given that there are literally hundreds of scientists involved in this entire process.


Jim Skea: Yeah, it is a massive exercise to do it, and I have to say, a lot of the hard work is actually done in the three working groups of IPCC who look after the physical science, look after impacts, adaptation and vulnerability and look after mitigation or reducing emissions because it’s the working groups and the co-chairs, one from a developed, one from a developing country that really steer the process and do the hard work. And there will be around 250 scientists associated with each of these working group reports. So you’re getting on to close to 1,000 people overall that are being corralled or herded together to produce the final results.


Bill Loveless: Yeah, quite impressive. Well, the IPCC’s work is the preeminent word on climate science. Its most recent assessment was released last year. What is it telling us about climate change today?


Jim Skea: Well, I mean basically what it’s saying, if we look at where we currently are at the moment, the current policies that we have in place around the world are, emissions will not go down over the next decade unless we add to the new set of policies we have in place. And at the middle of the range that is around three degrees warming over the 21st Century, which is very different from the goal that was set within the Paris Agreement back in 2015 to keep warming well below two degrees and pursue all efforts to limit warming to 1.5.

And what the science has also said is that there are very significant differences in the risks to the planet and to human society between global warming of 1.5 and two degrees, which is why we have been focusing quite a lot on that bracket, somewhere between 2 and two degrees. But as I think, with the current policies we’ve clearly identified that we are not on track to limit warming to these levels. And furthermore, it’s going to be very important that we adapt to the impacts of climate change in the coming decades as well. And adaptation efforts are also not up to scratch in terms of helping us to adapt to the kind of changes we expect.


Bill Loveless: Yeah. You sum up your work, your message these days as head of this organization as UAE, and you don’t mean the location of the most recent COP meeting, right?


Jim Skea: Yeah.


Bill Loveless: What are you talking about here?


Jim Skea: Yeah. Now you have to get me to remember what I meant by all this. The U stands for urgency. We can see the effects of climate change. 2023 was a very striking year because we saw impacts, wildfires, storms, et cetera, that we had not expected even at that level of warming. So there’s really that urgency in terms of action.

The A stands for agency. Which is the fact that we must not despair in the case of all the risks that we face at the moment. It’s too easy to be paralyzed by worries about it. We do have it within our hands, we have the tools to get ahead and to reduce emissions, to adapt to change. Human beings do have the agency to do something about it.

And the final E is for equity because it’s quite clear that not only climate change itself, but some of the policy measures that are put in place to deal with climate change could have quite a lot of differential impacts on different countries, different groups and society. And we will not get the social buy-in behind ambitious policies unless it is perceived that we are being fair in terms of distributing both the benefits and the risks associated with climate action. So that was what UAE in it’s rather a schmaltzy way was intended to convey. Yeah.


Bill Loveless: Well, we’ll get into what you mean by each of those three references here in the conversation, and we’ll get into the next phase of the work for the IPCC. But I have to ask you just at the up top here is can we limit temperatures to 1.5 degrees at this point?


Jim Skea: I think when we approved our special report on 1.5 degrees back in 2018, more than 5 years ago now, I think I said it was possible within the laws of physics and chemistry. I would not change that opinion at the moment. It is still just about possible to do it. But clearly if we carry on as we are, the current set of policies will not nearly allow us to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We would need to step up the ambition in terms of climate action by a huge, huge amount, even for us to say within touching distance at that 1.5 degree level.


Bill Loveless: Yeah, maybe the key words there that you said were just about.


Jim Skea: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s really, really tough. And the other point to make is that we’ve been saying we need a rapid ambitious action, and we’ve been seeing that for more than a single year now. And with every year that passes emissions are not going down, they’re still going up. So quite frankly, the chances of us limiting warming to 1.5 degrees are slipping away with every week, every month, every year of inaction.


Bill Loveless: Well, your work now, the IPCC’s primary objective now is a new cycle of assessments, the seventh assessment. What will that work entail and how will it differ from previous reports?


Jim Skea: Yeah. If I’m going to describe it will actually sound remarkably similar to what went before. So let me try to say what-


Bill Loveless: And that’s okay, right?


Jim Skea: We’ll be different about it. We have committed to do a special report on climate change in cities, and the train has already left the station on that one. A scoping meeting for the report is planned in Latvia in April. We met with all the governments in Istanbul in Turkey two weeks ago, and their governments decided that they would produce the same three working groups reports that have been produced in previous cycles. There was an option there potentially to do away with these and just have just a sequence of special reports. But the governments chose to take the traditional approach. And there will be no other special report in this cycle. That will be it. Other than a couple of reports that are basically more technical on the methodologies for calculating emissions, for example, associated with carbon dioxide removal technologies.

What is different and in the background is that many governments have been concerned that IPCC should have outputs in time for the second global stocktake under the Paris Agreement, which is due to conclude at the end of 2028. So I think one of the concerns is if we are going to get three working group reports done by then, it really means speeding up the process, perhaps being less ambitious, but less encyclopedic if I can put it that way, about our working group reports. Because very often there have been a sum of all the knowledge that has proceeded all the literature. I think we may need to focus just on what is new since the last reports came out.

I mean, we’ve barely recovered from that meeting. It was quite demanding. I’m meeting with the six working group co-chairs later this week to talk about how we react to this meeting. We still do not have a timetable for producing these reports, but many governments have the ambition to get them done in time for that second global stocktake. So I think this question of focus on the speed of delivery is something that may be a bit different in this cycle.


Bill Loveless: Yeah, that’s interesting. What new knowledge and understanding can the scientific community bring to us in that period of time?


Jim Skea: Well, this endless set of knowledge gaps that we have identified. If you take it for example, in Working Group I, in the area of physical science last report, we said it was unequivocal that human beings are the cause of the global warming that we’re seeing. So you might argue that Working Group I’s job is done now we’ve solved that question. It’s not really the case because what they need to do much more is to become more detailed, more specific, more granular about the impacts and effects of climate change in particular locations. And I think that is something that people need to know in order to plan for adapting to climate change. So there’s a lot of work left for Working Group I.

The other thing that they can increasingly do is that they can attribute individual events different weather extremes, for example, to human-based global warming, which has not always been the case. We’ve made the general statement that human beings are the cause of the warming that we are observing, but not particular events as it were. And so I think that’s a big advance.

On the adaptation side, adapting to the effects of climate change, I think one of the big uncertainties has been we need to pay much more attention to the question of the financial costs of adapting to climate change, that hasn’t been done as thoroughly as the costs of producing emissions. That’s something that we need to get to. And something that’s come up in the Convention on Climate Change has been the question of loss and damage. Even after you’ve adapted to all the impacts of climate change you see, what are the residual risks? What are the residual impacts that you need to live with? And it’s not for us to do, but in the Convention there’s a question about loss and damage funds to compensate countries that are affected.

And the final issue that I would pick up more on the reducing emissions side, and in fact, it’s not reducing emissions, it’s how you get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. So carbon dioxide removal is something that’s going to need a lot more attention in the Working Group III domain. So science never sleeps. We have plenty work to do.


Bill Loveless: Yeah, yeah. You mentioned carbon dioxide removal, as I recall, there was a report done some years ago, wasn’t there? By the IPCC on carbon capture and sequestration. What were the motivations and expectations for an updated IPCC special report on CCS in this next cycle?


Jim Skea: Yeah, in this cycle, it’s not so much a special report as a methodology report about how you go on estimating the amount of carbon dioxide that’s been calculated. The last time that IPCC looked in that was actually back in 2006, and it was based on a special report that had been produced about a year before that on carbon capture and storage. I’ve taken a quick check of the literature and about 90% of the literature and knowledge on this has been created since that report came out. So I think we are in time. We need to do some more work and take a look at it again.

Because I think there’s just a growing realization at the moment that you can’t stop global warming just by renewable energy and efficiency. We need to reach that net-zero to stop global warming. And net-zero means you need to take some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to compensate for inevitable emissions in difficult hard to abate sectors. So that question of carbon dioxide removal has come to the fore a little. It has not received perhaps enough attention in the past.


Bill Loveless: You give a lot of thought to how these reports are communicated. I was reading remarks that you delivered to the Earth Summit held by the Times of London in October, and you said, “We have been challenged by governments and by others to produce reports that are more succinct and more readily understandable by non-specialist audiences.” It can be a challenge for the science community to bring to the public’s eye some of these very complicated topics. How do you go about doing that?


Jim Skea: Well, just to say I think this is a challenge that has been laid out for us by governments, they aspire to that. Personally, I don’t think it’s as easy as it sounds. It’s not just a case of writing fewer words. Because the fewer words you write, the more meaning is loaded into a smaller number of works, which makes it all the more difficult to reach agreement on them.

So my personal view is we need to actually sit down and do a little bit of thinking on this is how we do it. I think IPCC is quite good, got quite good at the media, the social media side of communicating its reports. I think our bigger challenge is having more specialized messages for governments and particular stakeholder groups that need to take climate change action and get that done more concisely, more targeted. We’ve actually had in our budget for some time a proposal for an expert meeting on the science of science communication. I think we do the media bit pretty good now, I would like to repurpose that on how we communicate with policymakers and try out some ideas as to how you can construct messages in a more concise way. Because it isn’t that simple, when you get all these hundreds of scientists together it’s a major social process you need to manage in order to get them to make it more concisely. And I think that kind of challenge as well is a really important one.


Bill Loveless: Yeah. I spent decades as an energy journalist and a good part of it covering science and technology and I often could see how there was truly a gap between the science community, which often had difficulties communicating a technical message, and journalists who, depending on their backgrounds and their studies or whatever, often had difficulties comprehending and untangling what science was telling them. I think there’s a greater effort on both sides to reach each other and do better jobs, but it’s still something that can be difficult to do.


Jim Skea: Yeah, just to say, I think the other thing that we’ve got much better at is constructing figures that are understandable. I remember after the 1.5 report came out, a civil servant in the UK coming to me and saying, “That’s the first ever figure I could show to a minister and not have to explain it.” Yeah, it’s good.


Bill Loveless: Well, you also told journalists not long ago that the IPCC must walk a, “Delicate tightrope of communicating both the urgency of climate change and the human agency to tackle it.” What did you mean by that?


Jim Skea: What I mean is I do perceive that because you can really induce I think a sense of fatalism about the size of the risks posed by climate change, and that can, I think, induce paralysis of action. We’re all doomed, therefore, there’s no point in doing anything. And we need to get the message, we provide advice not only in climate change but climate action as well, and there are things we can do. So it’s two sides of the same coin. We need to emphasize the urgency, but we also need to emphasize that urgency does not mean inaction, it’s quite the opposite. It means that there’s a very strong case for taking action urgently and on quite a rapid scale if these risks are going to be addressed.


Bill Loveless: Professor, you mentioned the challenges of reporting in this next assessment in time for the next report by countries themselves and how they are responding to climate change. Let’s look back at the COP28 in Dubai. How did IPCC reports contribute to that meeting that was a rather significant one?


Jim Skea: Well, I mean, you just need to look at the decision texts that came out of COP28. There are constant references to the IPCC science actually in these decision texts referring to all of the working group reports from the previous cycle and the special reports that we produced. We also participated in the first global stocktake, which was a process that ran for about 18 months. So scientists involved with IPCC and people like myself who were elected IPCC officers, participated in the activities of the first global stocktake in the technical dialogue, not the political phase of it, which came towards the end.

And I personally had the privilege to be invited to brief the COP28 president soon after his appointment on the science of climate change. And that process has continued because we met him a couple of times during COP28 itself. So we were very engaged with it. And I do think that if you look at the texts that came out, you look at many of the public statements from the COP28 presidency, IPCC and the scientific community appears to have been a very important factor in helping to steer the conference.


Bill Loveless: And of course, such an important result of that meeting was the finding of the need to transition away from fossil fuels, which of course, again, built on the science reporting that the IPCC did.


Jim Skea: And indeed the quantitative statements that came before that about tripling renewable energy and doubling the rate of energy efficiency, which tried to put numbers, not just the qualitative statement.


Bill Loveless: So that there was some degree of confidence and the resolution and the final meeting that took place there.

We, of course, here are interested in policy and public policy. How can IPCC reports contribute to public policy, as they’re not meant to be prescriptive?


Jim Skea: That is the art of how to work things. It’s like I was in a French restaurant at lunchtime in London, and our reports are not the chef [inaudible 00:24:42] proposed, okay? There’s not one single solution. We produce an a la carte menu of different policy options that governments might like to follow up on, and we can point out the advantages, the disadvantages, the consequences of this action, but we never nail our colors to the mast and say, this is what you should do. But there are plenty options out there, and that’s basically how you do it.

Now, very often when scientists are writing their first draft of IPCC reports what comes out sounds like a recommendation or a policy prescription. And actually there’s quite a lot you can do just to turn the sentences round, even though it might be a little bit linguistically clumsy to try to turn them into a non-policy prescriptive, if you do the X, this is the consequence. And that I think is how you approach it.


Bill Loveless: And you’ve, of course, been on the other side. You’ve been on the policymaking side of the ledger. You were on the UK’s Committee on Climate Change as the Scottish champion. So you’ve been in a position where you need to interpret these sorts of reports and rationalize policy decisions?


Jim Skea: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. And I have to say, I’ve done a couple of roles where absolutely it’s been the job to be policy prescriptive and come up with endless policy recommended… Not endless. A sufficient number of policy recommendations for governments to work on. And it is a very different kind of activity. And very often in that kind of role you will be filtering the science before it actually gets in there. What you choose to look up may be more selective.


Bill Loveless: There’s some difference of opinion there when it comes to policy and whether or not there should be the prescription for it. I’ve read where five authors of the IPCC reports told the Guardian newspaper that scientists should be given the right to make policy prescriptions and potentially oversee their implementation by various countries. You, I take it, think that’s a step too far.


Jim Skea: I could not obviously agree with that one. Now, our scientists are independent scientists who are contractually open with their contracts with universities are free to make any prescriptions or recommendations they want, and that’s their right as independent scientists. IPCC is not in that position because I said at the beginning, the I is for intergovernmental. So much as I might be biting my tongue, I will be very straight and strict to the script as it were, and what was approved by IPCC,.


Bill Loveless: Right as you should as the chairman.

You see progress when it comes to policymaking. In October, you told a European Commission meeting that climate legislation covers more than 50% of global emissions, and that more than 20% of global emissions are covered by some form of carbon pricing, although at levels insufficient to induce major changes. But you cautioned that the scope of policies needs to be expanded and the ambitions of policymakers increased.


Jim Skea: Yeah. Yeah, sure. I mean, we’ve got the toolbox available. We’ve got the tools available to deal with climate change action covering most of our emissions. The question is to actually apply these tools and do it in a more ambitious way. So although I said it’s more than 50%, it’s not 100% of emissions. So that’s the scope question.

And then the other one is the level of ambition of the policies. How quickly do you phase out gasoline fueled vehicles, for example? That’s an example of the kind of ambition where you could set things up potentially a bit more if you chose to. So I think it’s both a question of the scope. In which parts of the world do you still need to see climate policies applied, but where they are already implied how ambitious and how strong you are in actually applying these policies.


Bill Loveless: Professor, you’ve noted that you’re hopeful when you talk about the human response to climate change. I’d like to talk a little bit more about that because I think it’s so important for people who are immersed in this field, whether they’re scientists or policymakers or journalists or the public. You can’t pick up the newspaper or look online these days without seeing something that scares you about what’s going on in the world. And yet you say, and others do, and I believe this as well, there’s a need to be hopeful. But let’s break that down a little bit. Why? I mean, how do we justify that?


Jim Skea: Well, I mean, let’s look just back over the last decade or so. For example, renewable energy. We have seen such huge progress there in terms of the declines in costs, 80% reductions in the cost of solar energy, 80% reductions in the cost of batteries, 50% reductions in the cost of wind. To the point that in some parts of the world renewable energy now competes with energy from fossil fuels for electricity generation. And that didn’t just happen by itself. It’s actually standing on the shoulders of all the policy efforts that were made up to decades ago. Even after the first oil crisis in the 1970s, people started pouring R&D money into wind and solar. And finally it’s paid off and you’ve got to the kind of breakthrough point where these technologies can actually wash their face in the market and they can compete by themselves.

And I think we’ve had successes in renewable energy, but there are some very tough issues coming up in the future, much more in the demand side, for example, building energy, use transportation energy, and lots of tricky issues around what you do in land use and agriculture as well. But we have signs, examples, say from renewable energy that it can be done and it will pay off, and there will be successes. So I think underlying that we have successes in the past as well as prospective successes in the future is a very important message to get across.


Bill Loveless: And of course, we look around the world, the impacts of climate change vary between the Global South and developed nations. And their needs to address them, of course, are rather urgent in so many parts of the world. And yet, how inclusive and diverse and representative is IPCC in doing this work? Well,


Jim Skea: I mean, IPCC has 195 member countries. I mean, not all of them turn up to meetings, but well over 100 typically do. And they represent everybody, least developed countries, Sub-Saharan Africa, developed countries like United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, et cetera, the Asian countries, China and India, all very active, Middle Eastern countries very active. So I think all the countries are actually represented in there. And that is why some of our discussions are difficult because we are dealing with such a diverse group of countries that it’s really an effort to kind of craft a consensus when people are coming from such different perspectives. Perhaps the physical science is easier to get agreement on. Quite frankly, our scientists know more than the governments there, so there’s no question about who is the authority. When you get into tricky areas like adaptation, mitigation, climate change action, there’s a lot of knowledge behind the country desks. And that I think is why it sometimes takes longer to get consensus.


Bill Loveless: And you’ve talked a lot about trust and how that is an important theme for you, that as these transformative changes are more likely, the importance of working together to prioritize risk reductions and focus on benefits and burdens and making sure they’re shared equitably is important. Do you see signs that trust is building when it comes to addressing climate change?


Jim Skea: I think that’s one that ebbs and flows, quite honestly. The interesting thing about climate change and carbon, it touches every aspect of economy and society. It touches fundamental questions of development, the way we organize ourselves. And for that reason, I think there’s always going to be quite strong views on quite a lot of the issues.

So for me, trust ebbs and flows. It goes up and down. It has never been simple in IPCC. But after the Paris Agreement, there are lots of really, really tough questions that need addressed given the view, the urgency of the challenges that we face.


Bill Loveless: And that Paris Agreement still stands out as the most important thing to refer back to when you’re going about this work. It’s been some years now, or nearly 10 years, but it’s still the reference point when it comes to continuing to do the work that scientists are doing here.


Jim Skea: Yeah. Well, I think it was obviously one of the most important agreements that we’ve had. And a lot of the conferences of the parties we’ve had since then are kind of following up Paris. They’re about the implementation of the Paris Agreement. And it’s really important with Paris we have these five-year global stocktake, because it’s at that point that you come back and test just how well things are working or how things are not working, quite frankly. And I think the first global stocktake has been quite unambiguous that we are not on track to reach a lot of the Paris goals.


Bill Loveless: This is the year in which there’s elections around the world, which are all important and important in terms of addressing things like climate change. Is it difficult for scientists to sort of isolate themselves from the politics that may be taking place in any given country and to bear down on the work they’re doing?


Jim Skea: Well, for sure we are not politicians, but I might say that you can’t really function in the science policy boundary area unless you have some political antennae as to where your messages are going to land. So let me put it that way. We have to be very conscious of the environment in which we operate, and I think be quite self-critical as to when we are being scientifically neutral or whether on occasions we start to drop into assumptions about the kind of world that we’re living in given the diversity of people engaged in IPCC.


Bill Loveless: Well, before we go, there’s one other initiative you have underway there that I want to talk about, and it’s one coming from an educational institution is particularly significant to us, and that is a new initiative for the IPCC calls of bringing into the fold and formalizing roles for early career scientists from developing countries. Tell us what that entails.


Jim Skea: Well, I mean, I’ll just say the IPCC shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore back in 2007, 2008. And with the money from that, IPCC invested in a scholarship fund to help educate younger scientists to support PhD scholarships.

The other thing we’ve done in the last cycle, my group and Working Group III did was introduce a scheme for four chapter scientists who were young scientists who were attached to each chapter of the IPCC report and did frankly, some of the grant work producing the figures, checking the references. But it brought them into international networks, embedded them [inaudible 00:36:52] and we have learned by surveying them afterwards that it enhanced their careers that they really became part of the global picture. So one of my ambitions for this cycle is actually to extend that chapter scientist scheme. It needs a little bit of institutional work to make it happen, but it’s one of my ambitions for this cycle to do that. And also spend a little bit of time networking these scientists so that the young scientists can support each other, which is quite easy to do in a virtual world, and I think we need to do more of that as well.


Bill Loveless: Yeah, providing the fresh blood is so important, and I think that initiative sends a strong signal to young scientists around the world. Well, perhaps a parting thought here, Professor, and that is one that you imparted at the COP28 meeting in Dubai when you said, “Science by itself is no substitute for action.”


Jim Skea: Absolutely. Yeah. I couldn’t have said it better. We could produce all the science in the world, but unless it’s acted on, we will not see things like the goals of the Paris Agreement met. There’s a lot of work to be done in the political sphere.


Bill Loveless: Professor Jim Skea, thank you for taking the time to join us today on Columbia Energy Exchange.


Jim Skea: My pleasure. Thank you.


Bill Loveless: That’s it for this week’s episode of Columbia Energy Exchange. Thank you again, Jim Skea, and thank you for listening. The show is brought to you by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Show is hosted by Jason Bordoff and me, Bill Loveless. The show is produced by Aaron Harwick from Latitude Studios. Additional support from Lilly Lee, Caroline Pittman, James Glynn, and Kyu Lee. Roy Campanella is the sound engineer. For more information about the show or the Center on Global Energy Policy, visit us online at or follow us on social media @ColumbiaUEnergy, and you can rate the show on Apple or Spotify. You can also let us know what you think by leaving a review. If you really like this episode, share it with a friend or a colleague. It helps us reach more listeners like yourself. We’ll be back next week with another conversation.

Against the backdrop of climate change, a global debt crisis is raising concerns about the cost of the energy transition. Countries in the Global South — which are trying to balance economic development and climate adaptation — are calling for reforms to the global financial system to get more access to cheaper capital.

The World Bank, which provides loans and grants to emerging and developing economies, is a major financier of international development. Last year, it delivered $38.6 billion in climate finance. But because of its significant capacity, the organization is often scrutinized for how it manages and allocates funds.

So, how can the global financial system better support emerging and developing economies amid a changing climate? And how is the World Bank under a new president, Ajay Banga, working to meet these challenges? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Axel van Trotsenburg about the World Bank’s climate agenda. 

Axel is the World Bank’s senior managing director, responsible for development policies and partnerships. As such, he is the second in command at the bank. He directs the organization’s core work on sustainable development, with a focus on climate change, fragility, human capital, and sustainable debt. Axel has been with the World Bank for more than 30 years, having also held various senior positions there.


More Episodes