Climate Change Mitigation: JCU Welcomes Alexia Massacand and Andrea Minchella 

On April 12, 2024, John Cabot University welcomed Climate Change Expert Alexia Massacand and Downstream Engineer Andrea Minchella for a seminar on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Dr. Massacand, who holds a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics from ETH Zurich and an M.Sc. in Environmental Policy from the London School of Economics, and Eng. Minchella, a European Space Agency (ESA) employee and IRIDE Programme team member with a Ph.D. in Geo-information and Remote Sensing from the University of Rome Tor Vergata, shared their insights on the subject. The seminar was organized by Professor Sergio Scicchitano (Chair of the Department of Economics) in collaboration with Dr. Fabrizio Zucchini (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), Dr. Beatrice Roscioli (European Space Agency – IRIDE Programme) and Dr. Vittoria Stolfi (European Space Agency – IRIDE Programme). 

Alexia Massacand
Alexia Massacand

Current Developments in Climate Change 
Dr. Massacand kicked off the seminar with a stark, data-driven analysis of the global impacts of climate change, emphasizing how short our efforts over the past 30 years have fallen. Since 1850, the average global temperature has soared by 1.4 degrees Celsius, and – despite the Kyoto Agreement of 1997 and the Paris one of 2015 – our actions have so far been totally insufficient. According to the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we’re likely to exceed the 1.5-degree Celsius target set by the Paris Agreement in less than 10 years, by August 2033. 

Government response & Adaptation Techniques 
Nevertheless, awareness around climate change has significantly increased in the past two decades. The 2024 World Economic Forum’s Global Risk report, which surveyed 12,000 leaders from 124 countries, identified climate-related issues (such as biodiversity loss and natural resource shortages) as the most pressing medium- to long-term global risks. That’s why governments are quickly becoming more proactive with adaptation responses too.  

Andrea Minchella 
Andrea Minchella 

While mitigation focuses on reducing emissions, adaptation aims to minimize the impact climate change has on our daily life. For instance, as rising temperatures have led to more frequent and severe natural disasters, hurricanes are not only more common but also more destructive than they were before. And this happens for a very simple reason, Dr. Massacand pointed out: warmer air holds more moisture, leading to heavier rainfall.  

National governments, then, should be prepared; and, indeed, some have already started working on it. China, the world’s largest polluter, is adopting several adaptation measures, such as the “Sponge cities” initiative: that is, a government-funded project to help cities develop systems to capture, slow down, and filter stormwater. 

Satellites action to fight climate change and the “Iride” project 
Dr. Minchella concluded the conference by highlighting the crucial role satellites play in combating climate change. They are invaluable instruments for monitoring real-time climate phenomena, such as clean-up efforts and hurricane movements, but, most importantly, they can provide us with detailed datasets to better evaluate how key indicators and phenomena, such as the Amazon Deforestation, change over time. 

“Iride” is one of such satellites. More precisely, it is an Italian multisensory satellite earth observation infrastructure. This initiative, sponsored by the Italian Government and funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), is managed by the European Space Agency’s Integrated Project Team (IPT) in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency (ASI). It involves over 40 industrial players across Italy and supports climate mitigation efforts by providing data on volcanic activity, ground motion, and the marine coastal belt. All of these are vital indicators for disaster prevention too, especially in a country like Italy. 

The seminar concluded by showcasing some promising job opportunities in the space sector. Most of these emerging fields, such as Space Law and Space Entrepreneurship, require two values that are central to JCU’s educational philosophy: interdisciplinary curiosity and innovative spirit. 

(Giovanni Tremontini)