President Reif speaks at MIT Climate Symposium

President L. Rafael Reif delivered the under introductory remarks at today’s “Progress in Climate Science” symposium.

Great afternoon!  I am delighted becoming right here with all people.

At MIT, convincing visitors to leave their labs and their particular classrooms to go to a daytime event is infamously difficult. Attracting a crowd to fill Kresge Auditorium feels almost impossible! Therefore, the total residence we today is profoundly considerable. This can be a sobering level of urgency and significance of the subject matter as well as an inspiring sign of the breadth, level, and passionate dedication of MIT’s environment action neighborhood.

Additionally: A warm hey to everyone joining us via livestream! It is wonderful and suitable your understanding and ideas using this program are being provided internationally.

This is actually the first in a number of six symposia.  For great work it took over many months to generate this outstanding show, I want to show my thanks and admiration into the Climate Action Symposia Organizing Committee – and especially to its seat, Professor Paul Joskow. The challenges of working with environment change will require our collective abilities therefore the best work of countless MIT thoughts and arms, thus I wish we are able to maintain this terrific level of interest and attendance for several six within the series!

These six symposia enable united states take stock of that individuals of MIT have actually carried out through MIT’s Climate Action Plan, and they’re going to inform and motivate our programs in the years ahead. Inside work, I am grateful to Vice President for analysis Maria Zuber for her leadership in producing the master plan four years ago, in monitoring our progress since, as well as in increasing our places money for hard times.

I’d also like to show my profound admiration for today’s keynote presenter, Professor Susan Solomon. Susan posseses an incomparable record of making superb science on topics through the depletion of the ozone layer to international heating: superb science that formed the springboard for policies that have actually changed the world. We were lucky in 2012 when she joined up with our faculty. We’re certainly fortunate to have this lady around today. And, we could perhaps not require a far more effective and inspiring voice inside our drive to improve fundamental knowledge and to speed up development towards a lasting person community.

Before we begin, I wish to acknowledge this is a serious minute in the life of the MIT neighborhood. This can be a moment for engaging intensely with each other on numerous immediate concerns, including how we should boost funds when it comes to work regarding the Institute and exactly what concepts should guide united states. This is a time for really serious discussion – as well as serious listening.

Within era of developing fortunes and shrinking national funds, its clear that as being a community, we have to think about many concerns. We need to comprehend the altering nature for the donor population. We must regulate how to consider the governmental, cultural and financial impacts of donors’ behavior – and more.

Concerns like these are undoubtedly strongly related how we fund MIT’s focus on power as well as the environment, the work of those within area.

As people in MIT’s weather action neighborhood, we have to have severe conversations with each other towards best way to move forward. Our capacity for respectful debate happens to be a signature energy of MIT. Thus I hope you will definitely start those conversations with each other in the times forward, specially utilizing the people who disagree to you.

Considering those that will speak these days, and seeking out at all people, i’m conscious that is really a space packed with environment experts – and that, being a former electric professional, I’m not one of them. Therefore I will offer just a couple of responses considering my observations and conversations right here, in Washington, plus in philanthropic circles, when I were trying to create help for work of climate technology and solutions at MIT.

Last June, our MIT Commencement presenter was the prominent philanthropist and previous mayor of the latest York City Michael Bloomberg. At The Time of their remarks, he launched an amazing personal dedication: $500 million to introduce a national weather initiative, which he calls “Beyond Carbon.”

He described an ambitious agenda of governmental activity: using essential steps to close coal plants, to block the development of new gasoline plants, to guide the leadership of condition and neighborhood political leaders, to produce rewards like a carbon tax and, inside the terms, to use the environment challenge “directly to the people.”

While he told our MIT market, inside the view (and I also quote), “At minimum when it comes to foreseeable future, winning the struggle against environment modification will be based less on clinical advancement and much more on governmental activism.” And just ten days ago, former US vice-president and environment activity pioneer Al Gore published a bit in the nyc instances. He made a similar argument towards importance of governmental activity, due to the fact, in his terms, “We possess technology we want.”

I am a big admirer of both Mayor Bloomberg and Vice President Gore. I am profoundly grateful for very early leadership and persistent activism. We appreciate their particular trust when you look at the types of technologies that have been created – some of them invented and higher level with this university. We agree totally that unless and until society requires a modification of plan, priorities, and behaviors, technology alone can’t save yourself us. And I also share their view it is absolutely vital to create preferred political support for weather activity.

But with the maximum respect, I wish to propose another viewpoint, because i’m convinced that we should also execute a huge amount of various other essential things, at the same time.

  • we have to considerably enhance our capacity to anticipate the localized effects of weather change and also to design solutions that enable coastal locations also vulnerable places to adjust to and survive all of them.
  • We must make solar panels and wind turbines better also to produce them with less dependence on unusual or costly products.
  • And, we require even better grid-scale storage space choices to handle intermittency.
  • We have to get a hold of how to expand the nation’s transmission infrastructure to support the efficient deployment of solar and wind.
  • We have to make car battery packs and carbon-free hydrogen less expensive and much more efficient.
  • We require much better mass transportation – and not only in Boston!
  • We are in need of smaller, less dangerous, newer much less costly nuclear flowers to supplement intermittent green sources.
  • And, we must deal with not merely electricity and transport, additionally farming, production, structures, and a lot more.

simply speaking, i’m believing that building broad and deep preferred help for weather action would-be a great deal, much easier, and a lot more likely to succeed, when we can offer to culture alot more fine-grained medical designs and far cheaper technical solutions. To break the impasse, I believe that, being a society, we should discover techniques to spend aggressively in advancing climate science and in making weather mitigation and version technologies significantly more affordable: inexpensive adequate to win widespread political assistance, to be affordable for each and every culture, and to deploy for a planetary scale.

Many climate activists believe best course lies in governmental might. They note, for instance, the cost of renewables is falling consistently and that once we place a income tax on carbon, market rewards could keep pushing costs down making non-carbon options more desirable. That’s demonstrably true. Less clear, but is whether the carbon-cost hammer is enough to drive the nail of global societal modification. 

Within my view, it is very important to understand that while moving a carbon income tax would certainly spur the development of cheaper reasonable- and zero-carbon power, building less expensive reduced- and zero-carbon power sources would make it less difficult to pass a carbon tax! So, we need to do both, as quickly as we can!

Normally, financing at required scale would have government leadership. Truly, as soon as we developed our Climate Action Plan in 2015, we likely to encounter dependable, lasting federal help. 

In the current political environment, i really believe the solution, until government management becomes readily available, is private philanthropy – a summary that brings united states returning to the concerns for our neighborhood that We highlighted from the beginning. I believe that those people devoted to this cause want to bond to locate brand-new ways to offer the advanced level science and technology which will allow governmental action to succeed on the road to a sustainable future for people all.

I look ahead to joining you within urgent work. Many thanks.