Climate change, or the climate crisis as many would prefer to call it, has risen to the top of the legislative agenda for the U.S. House of Representatives since Democrats took control of the chamber in January. And laying the groundwork for policy options is the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis established by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to place a high priority on the work. So now, months later, what has this special panel accomplished and how has it navigated this controversial issue?
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Representative Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat who heads the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Now in her seventh two-year term, Chair Castor represents a district that includes Tampa, a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast that’s at risk of sea-level rise. Before her election to Congress, she was a member of the Hillsborough County Commission and chair of the county’s Environmental Protection Commission.
In the House, she’s also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where much of the climate legislation will be assembled once the select committee that she heads completes its work.
Bill caught up with Representative Castor in her office on Capitol Hill to talk about what the select committee has done so far, how it will fulfill its mandate to provide legislative recommendations, and how she sees the politics of climate change playing out in Washington. They also talked about some of the options her panel has considered and what she needs to hear from the public before she submits recommendations early next year.
It’s a small country with big ambitions when it comes to climate change. The new government in Denmark plans to overhaul entirely the way it conducts climate policy, with a goal of reducing emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. And it says it’s doing so based on what science tells us, not what political expedience would suggest.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities since June. Minister Jørgensen was elected to the Danish parliament in 2013 and served as minister for food and agriculture between 2013 and 2015. He was also a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2013, and has taught at universities in Denmark, France and the United States.
Now, he’s in charge of an ambitious climate policy put in place by Denmark’s ruling Social Democrat Party and its three center-left allies.
Bill sat down with Minister Jørgensen during his recent visit to Washington to talk about Denmark’s plans to be among the nations that do the most to combat climate change, and the political climate in Denmark that makes such policies possible now. He walked Bill through some of the initial steps taken by his government and its plans to lock in its policies through a new climate law.
They also talked about Denmark’s plans to promote such policies across Europe and enable financing of green technology around the world.
Finally, the minister outlined a collaboration with Germany and the Netherlands to build an artificial island in the North Sea that could provide 10 to 15 gigawatts of offshore wind power and serve as a source for other forms of energy, like using hydrogen for energy storage.
China is the world leader in emissions of heat-trapping gases, and the Chinese government is taking many steps to reduce emissions, including policies that have made China the world's leader in renewable energy and electric vehicles. But other Chinese policies are working in the opposite direction, including support for coal-fired power plants.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by David Sandalow, the inaugural fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and the author of the 2019 edition of the Center’s Guide to Chinese Climate Policy, a book that helps readers navigate the complexities of China’s response to climate change.
David is the founder and director of the Center’s U.S.- China program and co-director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He’s also been a distinguished visiting professor in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University.
Before that, he held several senior positions at the White House and the U.S. Departments of State and Energy.
David and Bill got together to talk about the guide, the original version of which was published in 2018. Among the topics they discussed were major commitments that China has made in response to climate change and how the nation is following through on them. They also talked about some contradictory trends in China, such as its simultaneous construction of coal and renewable energy power plants.
And at a time when putting a price on carbon is a hot topic in the U.S. and other countries, David explains what China is doing about it.
Iraq is one of the world’s largest energy producers, but its people and its economy are hampered by pressures of electricity shortfalls and rising demand. The reliability of electricity services has long been an issue for the country, with violent protests breaking out last summer in the south due to blackouts from high demand. The disruption cost the old electricity minister his job.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Iraq’s new Minister of Electricity, Luay al-Khatteeb, the man responsible for addressing these problems and who, it has been said, has perhaps the toughest job in the Iraqi government, considering the history of challenges in the electricity sector.
Luay al-Khatteeb was a former non-resident fellow at CGEP as well as the Founder and Director of the Iraq Energy Institute. He’s had a vast career in business and in public policy, with positions at various international oil companies, as well as commercial banks and management consulting firms. He’s been a contributor to the Brookings Institution, Chatham House, the Kennedy School at Harvard, and other organizations.
Today, questions remain about how to manage power demand and supply, and whether new plans to rehabilitate transmission lines and build up resilience of the grid will pan out in light of security challenges, financing challenges, and international pressures. Jason sat down with Luay in Abu Dhabi at the World Energy Congress to discuss these challenges and much more.