Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, gasoline, and natural gas, generates electricity and powers our vehicles, but it is also the leading contributor to air pollution and powerful greenhouse gas emissions. Air pollutants and greenhouse gases generated by these activities have adverse impacts on human health and also trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, leading to climate change.
Our faculty, postdocs, students, and other research collaborators conduct policy-relevant scientific studies and link them with economic analyses to understand environmental benefits and tradeoffs ("co-benefits") of various options. Our goal is to provide policy recommendations to governments that have the dual benefits of improving air quality while mitigating the human causes of climate change. In particular, we focus on opportunities within the energy and agricultural sectors that provide reductions in emissions while simultaneously improving transportation and heating options, public health, and food security. Our research informs policy action in the world’s top four largest emitters of greenhouse gases: China, the United States, the European Union, and India.
Geeta Persad completed her PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies from Princeton in 2016. She was selected for an HMEI-STEP Graduate Fellowship, which allowed her to pursue the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy certificate at the School of Public and International Affairs.
Environmental challenges have galvanized activity across Princeton’s campus in recent years like few other issues in our history. From physical, biological and applied sciences to art, architecture, psychology, policy and more, research groups across the University are tackling some of the toughest problems facing humanity with the fullest range of toolkits.
As part of a series exploring the disciplinary variety of 2020 senior thesis research, PEI writes about the work of Princeton student Naomi Cohen-Shields '20 on air pollution in China. Working under the advising of Prof. Denise Mauzerall, Cohen-Shields pursued research to understand whether China's extensive efforts to improve its air quality affected communities differently across regions and socioeconomic levels.
Prof. Denise Mauzerall speaks with PhysicsToday about the importance of studying air pollution data during the coronavirus lockdown to better understand the sources of pollution.
COVID-19 has cast a global gloom by causing severe damage to health, the economy and general societal well-being. Temporarily, clean air provides some respite while a major portion of the world population remains indoors, abiding by social distancing norms. In India too, after many years, the blue sky can be spotted in normally hazy regions, as corroborated by satellite images, pollution data, and social media posts. However, the present air quality (AQ) improvement in India dwells in irony. Amidst the devastating COVID-19 crisis, it is neither the time to rejoice clean air nor would one want air quality to improve this way in the future.
Committed to addressing the country’s severe air pollution, China is attempting a shift from coal to natural gas and is considering a variety of sources, including domestic and imported gas options as well as creating its own synthetic gas from coal.
TODAY (Denise Mauzerall)
Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (Denise Mauzerall)
Science Daily (Denise Mauzerall)
The Energy Mix (Denise Mauzerall)