Better Climate Decisions


Protecting fragile marine ecosystems. Curbing dangerous carbon dioxide emissions. Transitioning to alternative fuels.

Big questions facing us all when it comes to climate change.

Carnegie Mellon University's Ines Lima Azevedo is working to provide answers.

The executive director of the new Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making at CMU, Azevedo is focused on helping consumers and industry leaders make better decisions involving global climate change and energy.

The center also taps into the expertise of principal investigator M. Granger Morgan, head of CMU's Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP), among others.

"One of the challenges with solving the climate change problem is in the daunting dimension of greenhouse gas emission reductions required in order to avoid what would possibly be very large negative impacts," said Azevedo, who is also an assistant research professor in EPP.

"Beyond that, even if a stringent climate policy were to be put in place today, it would take a considerable amount of time to see the corresponding emission reductions."

In the United States, for example, most emissions come from transportation and the power sector.

"The transportation sector is particularly challenging given the fact that, while alternative fuels are available, there is uncertainty on how much greenhouse gases they would prevent in their adoption."

Azevedo says in the power sector, while uncertainty subsists, the issue is somewhat different.

"We are locked into a well established physical infrastructure, and changes are therefore likely to be incremental and relatively slow."

Plus, while there are some low cost investment/high yield climate mitigation strategies — such as energy efficiency investments  — these won't be enough to achieve the emissions reduction levels required, she said.

Azevedo knew she wanted to work in climate change and sustainable energy systems halfway through her undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering.

"The area is quite interesting, and gives me the opportunity to work on tangible problems and provide solutions leading to real-world changes."

She said it also gives her the opportunity to work in an environment focused on interdisciplinary research.

"CMU's most attractive quality is just that: it provides, like no other place in the world, the opportunity to work in a passionate, highly collaborative, intellectually stimulating interdisciplinary working environment."

She added, "I know of no other organization where this mixing of discipline and goals would result in such outstanding work."

The Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making is funded by a five-year, $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Related Links: Learn More | Dept of Engineering & Public Policy | Environment at CMU

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