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Yiyun 'Ryna' Cui

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Associate Research Professor; Research Director, CGS

Ryna Cui is an associate research professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and research director for the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS). Cui is an expert in global coal transition, integrated assessment modeling and international and national climate and energy policies. She leads the Global Fossil Transition Project at CGS that focuses on rapid, just coal phaseout pathways both globally and in key countries of interest, including China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and others. As the China program co-director, Cui manages the development and implementation of CGS's China program portfolio. Cui also holds a joint appointment at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland. 

Her current research focuses on energy transition, fossil phaseout strategies and societal implications, plant-by-plant coal phaseout pathways, national climate ambition assessment, subnational and all-of-society climate action, low-carbon "Belt and Road Initiative" and scenarios for financial system, including NGFS. She recently served as a contributing author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report. Her prior research has focused on long-term food security under climate change mitigation, international agriculture trade and food demand, integrated assessment of energy-food-water nexus and international carbon markets. She holds a PhD in Environmental Policy from the University of Maryland, a master's degree in public policy from the College of William and Mary and a bachelor's degree in management science and engineering from Renmin University in Beijing.

Areas of Interest
  • Coal transition; climate change mitigation; China climate & energy policy

Successfully addressing the climate crisis while achieving sustainable development goals will require carefully constructed strategies to enact rapid economic transitions to a cleaner economy—tailored to national circumstances and priorities. The Center for Global Sustainability has deep expertise in country-specific analytical and policy approaches across key sectors and in support of a 1.5°C-pathway.

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After the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement in 2017, CGS led the analysis of commitments from the more than 4,000 cities, states, businesses, universities, communities of faith, and more who pledged to support the goals of the Paris Agreement in their own capacity. Since the U.S. officially rejoined the Paris Agreement in March 2021, CGS has continued working with U.S. subnational and international partners to deliver analysis that informs how an "all-of-society" ambitious and achievable U.S. climate strategy can drive actionable and feasible policy. CGS informs U.S. climate policy from the local to global through developing integrated modeling and climate scenarios for the federal government, advising on international discussions to ramp up ambition, and collaborating from the bottom-up to move the resources necessary to set and achieve ambitious climate goals.

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