GSPIA Student Professional Development Funds support Research Opportunities Abroad

By Nancy Jones, (MPA)

Select cities around the world are acting to mitigate their impact on the environment and must develop plans to adapt to climate change. This past summer I wrote a case study comparing climate adaptation and mitigation policies in the city of Copenhagen. Specifically I wanted to understand the rationale for the adoption of the two distinct policies. I chose Copenhagen because the city consistently ranks among the top 10 Green City Indices and other sustainability metrics, actively reduces the use of carbon-intensive systems in its portfolio, and must cope with increased flooding as a result of climate change. I applied for funding to carry out qualitative research with industry experts and was afforded the exceptional opportunity to visit the city during the first week of September. 

While there I met with two members of the Technical and Environmental Department of the City government, leading the Climate Adaptation Plan and the Carbon Neutrality Plan, respectively. They provided significant insight into the rationale for the city to adopt a Climate Adaptation Plan as well as a Carbon Neutrality Plan. Both shed light on the criticality of the Adaptation Plan as it relates to the city’s economy. If the city fails to adapt to climate change it will continue to lose billions of dollars each time a heavy rain, known as a Cloudburst, occurs. By spending on adaptive infrastructure now, the city will benefit in the long term. Climate mitigation in Copenhagen takes the shape of a Carbon Neutral Plan for 2025. Copenhagen will be the first Capital city globally to have reached this sustainable achievement.

I went on boat tour to Middelgrundens, an offshore wind farm, hosted by a Dane who was involved in the development of the windfarm, as well as sits on the Board of Directors of the Danish Wind Owners Cooperative. He invited me as his guest on the boat tour, which was pre-arranged by a group of 20 private-sector international renewable energy experts. Together we motored all the way out to see the dozen turbines that make up the wind farm and were directly underneath the massive turbines, which in total supply about 5% of the city’s energy demand. To my surprise we then deboarded the boat and walked out onto the concrete base of one of the turbines. Adding to my surprise, a door opened into the spine of one of the turbines and all 20 guests walked into the interior of the hollow turbine. After returning to land, Hans and I spent about an hour and a half discussing the development of the wind farm, including strategies and successes, as well as challenges and barriers to expansion and scaling in the future. 

While the trip was brief, it was incredibly useful for my purpose of writing a well-researched case study and building international relations. I am extremely grateful to the GSPIA Professional Development Fund, the Johnson Institute, and the European Studies Center for providing me with this unparalleled opportunity. It has certainly been the highlight of my graduate studies, and I believe will continue to be beneficial in the future. 


Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260