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Mayor de Blasio Appoints Leadership Team for the Fourth New York City Panel on Climate Change

December 23, 2019

Group of independent, expert scientists to advise on climate risks and lead development of new assessment report building on prior research

NEW YORK – Today, Mayor de Blasio announced the leadership team for the fourth New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC). This team consists of a diverse and distinguished group of academics, researchers, and practitioners with expertise in the disciplines of climate science, environmental studies, demography, urban planning, architecture, and design. Effective today, Deborah Balk, Christian Braneon, Robin Leichenko, Richard Moss, and Joel Towers will join the NPCC, where they will oversee the selection of the full panel and lead the development of the NPCC4 assessment report.

"I am confident that this diverse and talented leadership team will fight to protect all New Yorkers from the effects of global warming," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "With expertise in climate science, environmental studies, demography, urban planning, architecture, and design, this team will ensure that we are looking at every possible way we can make New York City more resilient."

The NPCC is an independent body that analyzes climate risks to New York City and advises on resiliency and adaptation to help ensure the city is prepared to withstand and emerge stronger from the multiple impacts of climate change.

"This diverse and highly credentialed leadership team will play a pivotal role in creating a more resilient New York City. Their formidable expertise will be invaluable as the City continues to urgently prepare for a warmer and more volatile world," said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor's Office of Resiliency. "We look forward to completing our inclusive process for appointing the rest of the NPCC early next year and encourage qualified individuals from all disciplines to respond to the Call for Nominations by the January 13th deadline.

The NPCC is responsible for producing science on current and projected climate trends for the NYC metropolitan area. Climate projections are the foundation of the City's adaptation planning. For example, they are used in the engineering and design of coastal resiliency projects and help to prioritize the City's adaptation investments.

Past NPCC work has also yielded important information on direct and indirect impacts from climate change including recurring "sunny day" flooding events, the impact of heat waves on public health, and ways to combat social vulnerability by incorporating equity into adaptation planning. This information has contributed to the development of New York City's multi-hazard adaptation strategy, which includes over $20 billion of investments and major coastal resiliency projects in all five boroughs.

The call for nominations for the remaining 15 members of the NPCC has been extended through January 13th, 2020. Nominations can be submitted at

In early 2020, the leadership team will review these submissions and make recommendations to the Mayor for the remaining appointments to complete the panel.

The NPCC will then undertake the development of its fourth assessment initiative, with the goal of releasing the first in a series of NPCC4 products starting in late 2021.The NPCC's fourth assessment will meet the requirements of local law and the evolving needs of the public good by enhancing the City's understanding of and response to impacts and vulnerabilities, as well as assessing the state of adaptation to potential climate impacts.

"New York City is a world leader in preparing for climate change. With NPCC 4, that tradition promises to continue by incorporating a much deeper analysis of vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation, and by bringing even more stakeholders into the process. I'm honored to part of the NPCC leadership team," said Deborah Balk.

"Cities have a critical role in the global response to climate change. I am extremely pleased to serve alongside this dynamic group of professionals as New York City continues to lead through inclusive climate action and climate-smart planning," said Christian Braneon.

"Prior NPCC assessments established New York City as a global leader in urban climate adaptation planning. I look forward to building upon this foundational work to identify transformative opportunities that prepare the city for climate change and are also attentive to issues of equity and long-term sustainability," said Robin Leichenko.

"Cities and states around the country are taking up the slack in federal government climate policy. New Yorkers can be proud of the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and his administration. Looking to the future, the impacts of climate change are just beginning and will get more severe. Like other cities, New York needs more information to guide operations, planning, and investments. I look forward to working with other members of the NPCC to provide trustworthy, actionable climate science to guide the City to a resilient and sustainable future," said Richard Moss.

"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," said Joel Towers.

"As the founding Co-Chairs of the NPCC we are excited to see the City of New York continuing the process to construct new climate knowledge that will further help effective and equitable public policy action at the city and neighborhood scale," said Cynthia Rosenzweig and William Solecki, Founding Co-Chairs of the NPCC.

About Deborah Balk:
Deborah Balk is Professor of Public Affairs in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College at the City University of New York (CUNY), Professor in the Economics, and Sociology Ph.D. Programs at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is also Associate Director of the CUNY Institute of Demographic Research. From 2016-2018, she was a Andrew Carnegie Fellow. As a leading expert in spatial demography, she combines demographic and spatial frameworks (using traditional social-science data with satellite data) to examine urbanization and related socio-demographic behaviors (migration, poverty) in low and middle-income countries with respect to environmental factors, in particular climate change. She is currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Population, and of the US Census Scientific Advisory Committee.

She holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and MPP and BA degrees from the University of Michigan.

About Christian Braneon:
Christian Braneon is a scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a visiting professor in the Environmental Science department at Barnard College. In his work, Dr. Braneon helps stakeholders use satellite imagery and climate projections to manage cities and water resources. Dr. Braneon served as Co-Director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's inaugural Environmental Justice Academy for community leaders. He led regional community engagement efforts associated with the Clean Power Plan in four states and was recognized for his service with a White House Climate Action Plan Award.

Dr. Braneon earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech. He also earned a B.S. in Applied Physics from Morehouse College.

About Robin Leichenko:
Robin Leichenko is Professor and Chair of Geography at Rutgers University and co-Director of the Rutgers Climate Institute. She has previously served two terms on NPCC. Her 2008 book, Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures (with Karen O'Brien, Oxford University Press), received the Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography from the American Association of Geographers. Dr. Leichenko's current research focuses on the economic and social dimensions of climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation change in U.S. cities and regions. Her work examines how and why processes of global economic and environmental change differentially affect cities, regions and sectors, and the implications of these processes for questions of vulnerability, equity, and sustainability.

Dr. Leichenko earned a Ph.D. in Geography and an M.A. in Economics from Penn State University. She also holds an M.A. in Geography from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and a B.S. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About Richard Moss:
Richard Moss is a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment and was a Visiting Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University's Earth Institute in 2018. He is on leave from the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland. He leads the Science for Climate Action Network, a new approach for assessing applications of climate science. Dr. Moss has held several public service positions, including Director of the US Global Change Research Program. He has played senior leadership roles in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the US National Climate Assessment. Dr. Moss's research on global environmental change focuses on scenarios, uncertainty characterization, and climate change adaptation.

Dr. Moss received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in public and international affairs. He also holds a M.P.A. from Princeton University and a B.A. from Carleton College.

About Joel Towers:
Joel Towers is Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at Parsons School of Design. He is also the Director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center and a University Professor at The New School. From 2009-2019 he served as the Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design. Previously, as Associate Provost for Environmental Studies at The New School, he led the establishment of the University's programs in Environmental Studies and, as Dean of Parsons, instituted required coursework across the college to assure that ecological literacy and sustainable design are foundational to all of the design, business and strategy programs the school offers. A former founding partner of SR+T Architects, Mr. Towers' focus on ecological issues and their relationship to both design conceptualization and construction methodology underlies his theoretical research, his current practice, and his teaching.

He holds a Master of Architecture from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Michigan School of Architecture.

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