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Columbia Energy Exchange

Columbia Energy Exchange features in-depth conversations with the world’s top energy and climate leaders from government, business, academia and civil society. The program explores today’s most pressing opportunities and challenges across energy sources, financial markets, geopolitics and climate change as well as their implications for both the U.S. and the world.
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Now displaying: July, 2019
Jul 29, 2019

With the next U.S. election just 15 months away, advocates of action on climate change are gearing up with fresh plans to address the issue and bring them to the attention of the American electorate. Among the biggest such efforts is the Beyond Carbon campaign launched recently by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable-giving arm of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Carl Pope, the senior climate advisor to Michael Bloomberg who has played a major role in developing the strategy behind the Beyond Carbon campaign. Bloomberg Philanthropies has put $500 million behind the campaign, which it calls the largest ever effort in the U.S. to fight climate change.

Carl is well known in environmental circles, having led Sierra Club for more than 30 years before stepping down in 2010. He is also a founder of the BlueGreen Alliance and has served on the boards of the California League of Conservation Voters and the National Clean Air Coalition. He’s written three books as well, including one in 2017 with Michael Bloomberg called “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses and Citizens Can Save the Planet.”

Bill reached Carl by phone the other day at his office in San Francisco, where he is a Principal Advisor at Inside Straight Strategies.

Among the topics they discuss are the goals of the Beyond Carbon campaign and why Bloomberg and Pope are now targeting natural gas, as well as other fossil fuels, for elimination in order to put the U.S. on a path to a 100% clean-energy economy. 

Bill probes Carl, too, regarding the timing of Beyond Carbon ahead of the 2020 elections, his views on renewable energy and nuclear energy, whether putting a price on carbon makes sense, and how the media is covering climate change.

Of course, with another round of debates for Democratic candidates for president about to take place, Bill also gets Carl's take on their positions on energy and climate issues.

Jul 22, 2019

Global energy markets are in flux, from the rapid growth in renewable energy production and falling technology costs to talk of peak demand and calls for urgent action on climate change. At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions went up last year at the fastest rate they have since 2011, and we saw growth in coal, oil and gas production and consumption. When it comes to energy and climate issues, there’s tension between the rhetoric, our ambition, and the reality of the facts on the ground.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Christof Rühl, an internationally renowned economist specializing in macroeconomics and energy economics. Christof served as Chief Economist at BP for nearly a decade, and most recently, was the Head of Research at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. 

Jason and Christof discuss how energy markets are impacting geopolitical risk and the global economy -- from sanctions to trade wars and the escalating tensions in the Straits of Hormuz. They discuss the shale revolution, and its global implications as the U.S. becomes a major exporter of both natural gas and crude oil. They also discuss plastics, electric vehicles and new technologies from advanced nuclear to battery storage and hydrogen, and the role they might play in the energy transition.

Jul 15, 2019

The coal industry continues to tumble in the U.S. as electric power plants turn increasingly to natural gas and renewable energy as their fuels of choice. And that decline might only worsen for coal mining and the communities that rely on it if Washington someday adopts strong policies to reduce carbon emissions associated with climate change.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless pays a visit to Adele Morris, a senior fellow and policy director for climate and energy economics at Brookings Institution. Adele and Noah Kaufman, a research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy, and Siddhi Doshi, a senior research assistant at Brookings, have written a new paper from the center that looks at the danger of fiscal collapse in coal-reliant communities.

What they tell us is that while climate risks to corporations have received scrutiny in recent years, local governments, including coal-reliant counties, have yet to grapple with the implications of climate policies for their financial health. 
Bill and Adele talk about some of the communities hard hit by shutdowns of coal-mining operations, the implications for tax revenues and bonds that support schools, roads, hospitals and other critical programs, and the difficulty of tracking that information for research like this report.

They also examine the implications for policymakers as they search for options to address climate change while also focusing on the needs of communities impacted by those policies.

Adele joined Brookings in 2008 from the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, where she advised lawmakers and staff on economic, energy and environmental policy. Before that, she was the lead natural resource economist for the U.S. Treasury Department for nine years and also did stints earlier at the President’s Council on Economic Advisers and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Jul 8, 2019

A key initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy is our Energy Journalism Initiative, which provides aspiring young reporters with a bootcamp to better understand the deeply complex issues of energy and the environment. This initiative is important because when journalism is at its best, the public’s understanding of these deeply complex issues is elevated. Few reporters meet that standard for excellence time and again the way this week’s guest does. 

In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by the award-winning investigative reporter for energy at The Wall Street Journal, Russell Gold. Some might remember reading his work during the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010, which was honored with a Gerald Loeb Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His recent work has shed light on the bankruptcy of PG&E, which he calls the “first climate change related bankruptcy in history.” And he wrote the go-to resource for understanding the transformational shale revolution with his first book, The Boom

Russell has now followed that up with Superpower: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy. It captures the country’s ever-more urgent quest for renewable energy, and it tells the story of one pioneer who tried to make it happen. It takes us beyond renewable generation to the critical but often overlooked part of the grid: transmission. 

Jason and Russell sat down to talk about Superpower, efforts to tie electricity grids together across the panhandle of the United States, and much more.

Jul 1, 2019

Nuclear energy is increasingly seen as a solution to climate change, thanks to its carbon-free characteristics. But harnessing the atom more for peaceful purposes like electric power also requires assurances that it will be done safely and economically, and won’t fall into the hands of those who would use it as a weapon.

In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Dan Poneman, the author of a new book from The MIT Press called “Double Jeopardy: Combating Nuclear Terror and Climate Change.” Based on his decades of experience in nuclear issues, Dan writes that nuclear power is essential to decarbonizing the environment and can be relied upon more even as we reduce the risks of nuclear.

Their conversation is timely, happening as headlines over nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea compete for attention with those over climate change, and raise questions over whether those two characteristics of nuclear energy can really be reconciled today.

Dan and Bill talk about that as well as what Dan considers to be good policymaking in nuclear energy and nuclear nonproliferation, and what’s taking place along those lines in Washington today. And he tells us what advances in technology he thinks are needed to make nuclear energy an option again for new generating capacity in the U.S.

Dan is the president and CEO of Centrus Energy Corporation, a Maryland-based firm which sells enrichment, fuel and fuel services to utilities with nuclear reactors around the world. Previously, he was Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy during the Obama administration and a member of the National Security Council staff responsible for nonproliferation and export controls during the Clinton administration.

On a lighter note, Dan and Bill also talk about his off-hours activities as a rock musician over the years, including a band named "Yellow Cake," a humorous reference to an ingredient in the nuclear fuel-making process. It gives us a look at another side of a man known primarily for his work on a rather sober topic.

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