Month: September 2021

Climate Change Research & Policy Updates in CT Strategies for Promoting Equity & Inclusion (October 14, 2021)

A key challenge in addressing the intensifying effects of climate change on our communities is to ensure equity in the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation strategies, and public participation in policy decisions, so that vulnerable communities in Connecticut are protected and maintain a stake in efforts to address climate change.

Summary of the event 

Addressing the intensifying effects of climate change on our communities requires massive investment in mitigation and adaptation strategies that will alter and disrupt how communities generate and use energy and how we access and consume essential resources. Given the severity of the climate change crisis and the scale of intervention required, the design and implementation of mitigation and adaptation solutions carry critical implications for equity–in the distribution of costs and benefits as well as in access to opportunities to influence public policy decisions–across members of society. 

Attention to the potential for policy and programs to reduce or exacerbate inequity in social, economic, or political spheres is an essential yet, all too often overlooked, component to a robust and sustainable approach to addressing the challenges associated with climate change. A key challenge is to ensure that vulnerable communities in Connecticut are protected and maintain a stake in efforts to address climate change.

In this webinar, leading UConn researchers and environmental professionals discussed lessons learned from their research and policy engagements focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation, with emphasis on the challenges associated with these issues of ensuring equity. Panelists discussed the policymaking processes and outcomes to date related to the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) and the Long Island Sound Study (LISS): Connecticut’s flagship programs working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions while protecting infrastructure, agriculture, natural resources, and public health systems from the effects of climate change.

The panelists identified core challenges facing efforts to ensure equity in the policymaking process and its consequences. Multiple panelists highlighted the under-representation, or absence, of marginalized communities in consultation and planning processes in which policymakers and program designers identify the most important climate change-related issues needing attention and debate alternative approaches to addressing them. Improving the representation of marginalized communities at this stage of the process will ensure that the allocation of scarce funding will be directed toward severe challenges facing a greater share of Connecticut’s residents. It will also allow for the implementation of measures to avoid marginalized communities shouldering a disproportionate share of the costs and disruptions associated with structural changes. 

Furthermore, because efforts to expand access to essential services, such as clean water or adequate housing, are resource-intensive, in many cases, programs to increase equity and social justice on socio-economic dimensions are in direct competition with efforts to mitigate climate change. Separating these two spheres of social policy may inadvertently introduce barriers to achieving core objectives in either or both domains. The panelists highlighted that rather than science and engineering representing the primary constraint on addressing climate change while ensuring equity; the main challenges are political.  


Denise M. Savageau (UConn Alumna, CAHNR; former Conservation Director,
Town of Greenwich)

James O’Donnell (Executive Director, Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation/CIRCA; Professor of Marine Sciences, UConn Avery Point)

Christine Kirchhoff (Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, UConn Storrs)

Baikun Li (Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, UConn Storrs)

Anji Seth (Professor of Geography, UConn Storrs)

This event is sponsored by the Engineering for Human Rights Initiative at the University of Connecticut, in partnership with the Governor’s Council on Climate Change and the Long Island Sound Study.

Dr. Guiling Wang Elected as AMS Fellow

Portraits for UConn CEE department including some graduate students.

We are extremely proud to announce that Dr. Guiling Wang has been elected as Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Wang is one of 22 new Fellows elected for their “outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years.” She will be recognized at AMS’ 102nd Annual Meeting and Award Ceremony to be held in Houston, Texas in January 2022.

Dr. Wang said, “I am deeply honored and humbled by this election to Fellow. There are so many deserving individuals in my field. To be recognized by AMS with this distinguished honor is incredibly encouraging. I am grateful for those who nominated me and supported my nomination. I am also very proud of the research conducted by my current and former students, postdocs, and visiting scholars at UConn.”

Guiling Wang is Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut (UConn), and a faculty member in the Center for Environmental Science and Engineering at UConn’s Institute of the Environment. Wang received her B.E and M.S. degrees from Tsinghua University, and Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Wang’s research aims to understand and quantify the terrestrial hydrological cycle, its variability, changes, and interactions with the rest of the Earth system. Her lab’s work makes use of regional and global climate models, remote sensing and ground observational data, reanalysis data, and machine learning. Recent project topics include precipitation extremes, drought, ecosystem-climate interactions, land use and agriculture in a changing climate.

Beyond research and teaching, Dr. Wang also actively serves her profession in various capacities. She is Associate Editor for Journal of Hydrometeorology and Geophysical Research Letters, co-chairs the Annual Meeting Program for the AMS Conference on Hydrology, and serves as a member of the Hydrological Science Award Committee for the American Geophysical Union. Dr. Wang co-led the Connecticut State Climate Assessment in 2019, and has recently committed to working as a chapter author for the 5th National Climate Assessment.

On top of Wang’s recent Fellow election, other awards and accolades she earned includes being a School of Engineering Centennial Professor, Al Geib Associate Professor, Elected to the Connecticut Academy of Sciences and Engineering (CASE), and CT Council Women of Innovation finalist.

For more information on Dr. Wang and her background, please click here.