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Aspen nonprofit director heads home after the ‘Olympics of climate change’

L to R; Nate Aden, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute; Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of Lanzatech; Jacquelyn Francis, Executive Director at Global Warming Mitigation Project; and Ed Agnew, Corporate Development Manager, KOKO Networks at the Global Warming Mitigation roject press conference at COP27. November 8, 2022
Courtest of Sarah Pooler

On Thursday, Jacquelyn Francis will leave COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, after almost two weeks of climate-change conferences and panels. 

Francis is the executive director and founder of the Aspen-based Global Warming Mitigation Project. She attended the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27). 

She also attended last year and said that the tone of event shifted since 2021 with the year’s events. 



“There’s determination and hope and, like, kind of collective excitement. And then, other moments where it just felt very difficult,” she said. “There’s not as much progress as people were hoping. And, there’s people who are negative about all the processes, and people who are really determined and positive.”

According to the United Nations, only 24 of 193 countries had submitted updated National Determined Contributions — their outlined plans to meet specific climate goals — at the start of COP27. The four official primary objectives for this year’s convention were mitigation, adaptation, finance, and collaboration. 




They also talked a lot about loss and damage in relation to developing countries.

“I have noticed that there are a lot of the less-developed and underdeveloped countries that are being very vocal here for good reason,” Francis said. “They want to develop and, you know, they’re scared about the impacts of climate change on their lives and their survival.”

She said that the role of wealthy countries in mitigating the negative effects of climate change was much discussed. Aspen is like a micro study of this concept, with concentrated wealth and fossil-fuel burning activities prevalent in a relatively small area. She said Aspen has the opportunity to effect change because of that position.

“I think that there is a role to be played by philanthropists in wealthy countries in wealthy communities, and people looking to invest (in climate change mitigation) because that could create a lot more momentum and change, faster than what politicians and legislators can do.”

The rewards of investment in climate change mitigation played out on stage with Francis at the Global Warming Mitigation Project press conference on Nov. 8. Jennifer Holgrem — CEO of LanzaTech, a carbon recycling company and a 2018 Keeling Curve Prize laureate — discussed her work with Francis. 

“One of them is LanzaTech,” Francis said, “and they’ve just been announced as a finalist for the Earth Shot prize. And Jennifer from LanzaTech talked about how wonderful it was for the Keeling Curve Prize to recognize and promote the work they were doing.”

Heading back after the convention, she said she is looking forward to continuing her work in climate change mitigation and financially supporting innovators in the field. 

“The responsible thing to do is to take care of the future. And, one of the ways to do it is to not necessarily give to The Global Warming Mitigation Project, but to learn about where they can best invest,” Francis said.