Carnegie Mellon University hosted the INTERSECT@CMU conference, which features speakers from Carnegie Mellon University, climate experts, private sector partners, and public sector leaders. The keynote speakers included David Turk, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and Zia Khan, the senior vice-president for innovation at the Rockefeller Foundation.

The conference was held on Feb. 10-11 virtually via Zoom, and each of the panels and speakers focused on a different facet of climate action and the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are the goals developed as a blueprint by the United Nations to foster global cooperation for climate action. The consistent theme across each event was that there is a lot of work that needs to be done on climate action, and not nearly enough is currently being done in the United States.

David Turk highlighted the importance of climate action from a public policy perspective. He emphasized that $62 billion was allocated to the DOE in the infrastructure bill passed by Congress last November, which is going to be used to hire more DOE workers and create new offices to make more progress towards fulfilling the SDGs at a federal level. He also noted that public private partnerships were going to be necessary to move forward with SDGs.

Zia Khan spoke on a similar point, explaining that private sector innovation and technology need to meet the requirements to fulfill the SDGs. The Rockefeller Foundation provides guidance and solutions for these innovations and technologies.

The consistent message was that systemic change needs to happen fast, and it would be disastrous to allow climate change to go unmitigated at its current trajectory. Panelists focused on equitable, inclusive, and affordable solutions to prevent the climate crisis from worsening preexisting inequalities.