Center for Climate and Life 2016-2018 Biennial Report

Rebecca Fowler
June 25, 2019

Over the past two years, we’ve awarded to $2.1 million to 10 leading Columbia climate scientists, quadrupled our research funding, and much more. We’re pleased to share our journey with you in our new Biennial Report.

The Center for Climate and Life supports novel, risky research to lead climate action. Representing nearly 120 climate and ocean scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, we direct philanthropic support to fund their most promising, impactful science.

We’re pleased to present our first Biennial Report. Our work bringing scientists and stakeholders together to build solutions for one of today’s biggest challenges has resulted in the following accomplishments over this 2016-2018 biennial period.

Funding Critical Science: We’ve supported innovation by awarding over $2.1 million in research fellowships through our Fellows Program to 10 exceptional Columbia University scientists. Their bold ideas are helping us understand and respond to climate change.

Advancing Understanding of Climate Change: The scientists we fund lead critical research that addresses a range of climate concerns. Their work has already had an impact, for example, by shaping our understanding of wildfire risk in a warming world.

Fueling Future Research: The $3.2 million in direct support we’ve provided to our Fellows and affiliated scientists has leveraged more than $9.5 million in additional federal funding for these researchers—a return on investment of nearly 300 percent.

Developing Strategic Partnerships: Engagement with the private sector provides vital funding for research by Center scientists and enables them to share the knowledge they generate with stakeholders in industry, finance, and all levels of government.

Creating Collaborative Networks: We co-hosted two climate science forums for business leaders in partnership with the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School. The first resulted in a white paper that describes how advances in climate research can be used to reduce investment risk and improve returns.

Preparing Future Leaders: In our first two years, 33 local high school students participated in our annual summer intern program, which provides vital hands-on lab and field experience for aspiring young scientists.

Expanding Our Fundraising: We continue to experience yearly growth in donor support, which increased from $1.1 million in FY17 to over $3 million in FY18. We received our largest single gift of $2 million in late FY18 from Dirk Ziff and Daniel Ziff to support a focused, mission-critical research program.

Looking Forward: The need for actionable science has never been greater. Our model of engaging science philanthropy to support science, build partnerships, and secure Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s future in a time of diminishing federal support is succeeding. Our scientists are energized, optimistic, and enthusiastically leading our innovative and impactful research program. Our near-term goal is to raise $20 million to endow long-term support of this research program, which will help secure and diversify funding for climate research at Lamont.
This work has never been more urgent or important. On behalf of our scientists, we’re extremely grateful to our many donors and partners for helping advance our mission.

View the complete biennial report.