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Fellow Spotlight: Mustafa Ali

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The Climate CoLab recently introduced the “Impact Tab”. With the Impact Tab, authors are now able to calculate the potential greenhouse gas reductions from their proposed actions. The Impact Assessment Fellows’ role is to help proposal authors with this process. We had an opportunity to sit down and speak with the Impact Assessment Fellow team lead, Mustafa Ali. 

Mustafa Ali, Impact Assessment Fellow team lead.

    Mustafa grew up in Islamabad, Pakistan. It was there that he was faced with the realities of energy challenges. As he describes, “if you went up to Margalla hills after dark, and looked down on the city, you could watch the rolling blackouts: one perfectly square sector of the city turned dark as another, like clockwork, electrified again.” In Pakistan, “rolling blackouts and high fuel prices were a part of life”, he said, “and reason enough to work on energy challenges.”

    Mustafa went on to get a Bachelors degree from Auburn University, where he worked on the Sol of Auburn solar car team. He furthered his education at Cornell University by receiving a Masters degree in Engineering. He also just completed his MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, which he hopes will help him continue his work on addressing some of the climate, energy, and technology issues that he has experienced first hand. 

     “A major challenge of climate change is human behavior,” says Mustafa. “Both businesses and consumers are apathetic towards social costs that are not internalized.” This being said, he thinks there are two types of solutions that are critical to addressing this problem: “the first type of solution positively influences consumer behavior” and “the second type of solution is to create products that beat traditional competitors in both social and private costs.” 

    The Climate CoLab helps these solutions develop, but Mustafa realized there still was a missing link. When Mustafa had the opportunity to speak to Professor Thomas Malone, Principal Investigator at the Climate CoLab, he was inspired to join the Climate CoLab as a Fellow to address what he “considered to be an undeserved challenge in the climate change conversation: bridging the gap between great technology/policy ideas and the resultant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.” 

“I joined as a Fellow so that the Climate CoLab can make the process of climate impact assessment easier and more accessible from outside the scientific and academic community.” 

    To achieve this, Mustafa worked with the Climate CoLab team to create the Impact Assessment Fellow program. So, what does an Impact Assessment Fellow do? “Our team reviews each climate proposal to estimate the greenhouse gas reductions that can be achieved,” he said. “The Fellows ensure a consistent calculation methodology is used for all proposals, taking into account technological efficiencies, economies, human behavior, and adoption rates.”

“We hope the team’s methodology and curated models will serve as a repository to help future engineers, policymakers, and the general public in estimating the climate impact of their ideas.” 

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You can learn more about the Impact Assessment Fellows here: climatecolab.org/impact_fellows

You can follow Mustafa on twitter: @mustafaalitx