New York State turns to 4 Cornellians for climate advisory panels

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CORNELL, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The state is turning to four Cornellians to lead them to a zero-carbon emissions economy by 2050.

They’ve been appointed to three climate advisory panels to inform and guide the New York State Climate Action Council, a task force established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The council has selected the following people:

  • Julie Suarez — Associate dean for land-grant affairs in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Lara Skinner — Co-Executive director of the Worker Institute at the ILR School
  • Mary Beth McEwen — Executive director at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County
  • Peter Woodbury — Senior research associate in the Soil and Crops Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science

The role of Suarez focuses on agriculture. “For the first time in my career in policy settings, agriculture is really being looked at as the source of the environmental solution,” she said.

Their job is to bring the expertise of world-renowned scientists to New York State.

“Try to kind of harness all the different faculty members we have at Cornell, all the different staff working on climate-related issues, and bring that policy expertise into that working group,” said Suarez.

The Cornellians are working on different ways to help farmland become a positive emission source, by doing things like trying to take CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in soil.

“Also, how to help farmers utilize technology to utilize fertilizer in the best most precise way possible so that we can decrease nitroxide emissions into the environment,” said Suarez.

Another goal is to find ways to limit methane around livestock. “Methane, in terms of its global warming potential, has a much higher impact than CO2,” she said.

The team will look at things such as agriculture, workforce issues, and methane emissions.

That’s what’s exciting is to look at our farms, look at our forest environments, and try to figure out how we can best as a state move forward in turning these opportunities to help our climate be a little bit more livable in the future.

Julie Suarez

The team will work to establish benchmarks, and tactics to help reach them. Within the next year, Suarez says the plan will go to the New York State Climate Action Council for approval.

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