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Lauren Gifford, PhD

Human-Environment Geographer

I am a critical geographer exploring the intersections of global climate change policy, conservation, markets and justice. My work asks how, and by whom, climate and conservation policies are enacted. Theoretically, I draw on political ecology, science and technology studies, and critical development geography. Recently I've been studying the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to verify carbon offsets.

My research interests include: International climate change policy, forest conservation, renewable energy, climate finance, carbon markets, carbon offsets, carbon accounting, REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation), cap and trade, social costs of climate change, environmental justice, climate communications, international development, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

I hold a PhD in Geography from University of Colorado, Boulder, an MA in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College, a BA in Communications from American University, and completed courses in greenhouse gas and forest carbon accounting through the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute. I've conducted mixed methods field research in the Peruvian Amazon, on Cuban organic farms, throughout Maine's forests, at the United Nations' annual climate negotiations, and at countless civil society meetings around the world.

Currently, I teach an introductory political ecology course in the Department of Geography at University of Colorado, Boulder, and I am a Research Affiliate at the CU Center for Science and Technology Policy Research.

I am a long-time volunteer with the global Climate Justice Now! network, working to build capacity for marginalized populations within the UNFCCC. I advised the Fijian delegation with negotiating the climate finance tract of the Paris Agreement at COP21. As part of my advocacy for social justice within my home community, I served for two and a half years as a Human Relations Commissioner for the City of Boulder, Colorado.

I love to collaborate and believe that great things can happen when willing minds come together. Lately I have been collaborating and conspiring with 500 Women Scientists to help amplify voices of woman in science; with the Media, Environment and Climate Change Observatory, tracking media coverage of climate change; and as a consulting social scientist with the Mad Farmer film series, designing research that will inform sustainable farming practices.

After earning my Master’s degree I spent three years managing the Climate Justice Research Project at Dartmouth College, a Ford Foundation-funded initiative working at the intersection of climate change, economic disparities, and development. I began my career as a newspaper reporter for two of Maine’s (best!) weekly newspapers: The Mount Desert Islander and the Ellsworth American.