New School Faculty Appointed to the Fourth New York City Panel on Climate Change
Recently two New School faculty members — Ana Baptista, assistant professor of Professional Practice, chair of the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management program, and Associate Director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, and Timon McPhearson, associate professor of Urban Ecology and Director of the Urban Systems Lab — were appointed to the fourth New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC). The NPCC is an independent body that analyzes climate risks to New York City and advises on resiliency and adaptation to help ensure that the city is prepared to withstand and emerge stronger from the multiple impacts of climate change. Baptista and McPhearson will join this 20-member group, made up of leading experts from a broad array of disciplines including climate science, demography, engineering, geography, vulnerability analysis, global change, architecture, and urban planning.
In a press release announcing the members of the panel, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “As we continue on the path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to center climate justice in our approach. I’m confident this panel of scientific experts will ensure that we have the data we need to fight global warming and create a more resilient city.”
The NPCC was created in 2009 to act as an independent authoritative source of information on potential climate change impacts to New York City to assist in the city’s decision making. The fourth NPCC will produce assessment reports, web-based reports, graphics, visualizations, and more beginning in late 2021. In its work the panel will respond to both immediate and emerging challenges and long-term trends, such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its interactions with the ongoing climate crisis.
The New School has long played a role in addressing the climate crisis through its research centers and the scholarship of many faculty members, including McPhearson and Baptista. At the Urban Systems Lab, McPhearson researches the social, ecological, and technological systems that underlie persistent challenges in cities, providing new insight into developing more equitable, resilient, and sustainable communities. “As COVID and recent weather extremes have made clear, impacts are disproportionate with often low-income and minority communities taking the brunt of impacts and risks. I look forward to working with the NPCC to build the knowledge base for understanding key risks and advancing systemic solutions for resilience and climate justice,” said McPhearson in the city’s announcement.
Baptista’s research and professional practice focuses on environmental and climate justice. At the Tishman Center, she works directly with affected communities and coalitions to support community-led critical and systemic initiatives to achieve environmental justice. “I am honored to join this group of dedicated scholars and practitioners on the NPCC and look forward to the urgent work of tackling the climate crisis, centering specifically on environmental justice and climate justice in the advancement of NYC’s climate goals,” said Baptista.
McPhearson and Baptista are not the only New School representatives who will be advising the city on these crucial issues. Joel Towers, a professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at Parsons School of Design and Director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, was appointed to the five-person leadership team for the NPCC last year. The leadership team, consisting of a diverse group of academics, researchers, and practitioners with expertise in climate science, environmental studies, demography, urban planning, architecture, and design, oversaw the selection of the full panel and will lead the development of the NPCC4 assessment report.
In the announcement of the establishment of the leadership team, Towers said, “Climate change underlies a paradigm shift in how to think about, design, and construct the city. The NPCC is critically important to understanding the nature of this change and assuring a just and prosperous transition. I am honored to join my colleagues in this work.”
This NPCC will be the first to work with a dedicated team addressing climate science and risk communications within the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency. “As we respond to the current COVID-19 crisis, we remain focused on the critical work of preparing for global warming and advancing climate justice in New York City,” Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency, said in the city’s announcement. “To adapt to a rapidly changing climate and volatile environment, we need credible, legitimate and relevant science to inform our decisions. We’re thrilled to partner with such a highly credentialed, interdisciplinary, and diverse group of experts to create a more just and more resilient city.”