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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: June, 2020
Jun 29, 2020

Ever since Thomas Edison lit up lower Manhattan in 1882, New York has long been at the forefront of many energy and environmental issues, and that remains true today. New York recently adopted groundbreaking targets to decarbonize the state’s electricity, and eventually its entire energy system. This comes on the heels of an innovative set of regulatory initiatives to modernize and decarbonize New York’s electric grid, called Reforming the Energy Vision, led by Richard Kauffman, now an Adjunct Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy. As the Cuomo administration emerges from the hardest-hit days of the COVID-19 pandemic, questions remain as to how the state plans to achieve these ambitious goals and perhaps show the rest of the nation what a pathway to decarbonization might look like. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Ali Zaidi, Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance and Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment in the Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Ali served as top energy official at the White House Office of Management and Budget during the Obama administration, among other positions. Since leaving the Obama administration, Ali has also worked as a transactional and regulatory attorney, co-founded Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, and was a Non-Resident Fellow at CGEP.

Jun 22, 2020

As the dangers of climate change become ever more urgent and the costs of renewable energy plummet, the electricity sector has been experiencing wrenching shifts. More intermittent, distributed sources of energy, new technologies, new competitors, new business models, and policy changes. As we drive toward lower and lower carbon sources of energy,  how can the power sector deliver abundant, affordable, secure, flexible power all at the same time? It’s a critical question for the clean energy future, and it also happens to be the subject of a new book by Peter Fox-Penner.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Peter Fox-Penner, who is Founder and Director of Boston University’s Institute of Sustainable Energy, and is a Professor of Practice in the Questrom School of Business. His extensive research and writing interests, in the areas of electric power strategy and regulation, energy and climate policy, and sustainable finance, include the book Smart Power and now its sequel, Power After Carbon. Earlier in his career, Peter was a Principal at The Brattle Group, where he specialized in energy and regulated industry matters. He served as Principal Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy unit, and as a Senior Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He also currently serves as Chief Strategy Advisor to Energy Impact Partners. Peter received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. 

Jun 15, 2020

Mary D. Nichols has been called “the most influential environmental regulator of all time.” As chair of the powerful California Air Resources Board, she has pioneered several landmark climate initiatives, including the state’s cap-and-trade program, and worked to set stronger automative emission standards, triggering a pitched battle with the Trump Administration as it seeks to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards and take away California’s ability to set its own pollution rules.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Chair Mary Nichols, the chair of CARB since 2007, a position she also held from 1979 to 1983. Over a career as an environmental lawyer spanning nearly a half century, Mary Nichols has played a key role in California and the nation’s environmental policymaking. In Mary’s extensive career as an environmental lawyer and policymaker, she founded the LA office of the Natural Resources Defense Council as a senior attorney, served as Executive Director for the Environment Now Foundation, served as the Assistant Administrator of Air and Radiation in the Clinton Environmental Protection Agency, worked in private practice, among many other distinguished roles. Mary is a graduate of Yale Law School and serves on the faculty at the UCLA School of Law.

Jun 8, 2020

As China’s reported number of coronavirus cases hovers close to zero and the country begins charting an ambitious economic recovery, one question emerging is how the pandemic affects China’s outlook for energy and climate change. The National People’s Congress, which took place last week following a two-month delay, broke with tradition in not announcing a 2020 growth target for the economy, and likewise, China’s top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, has declined to set an energy intensity reduction target for the year due to ongoing global economic uncertainty. 

The three biggest producers of greenhouse gases - the European Union, the United States, and China - are signaling quite diverging paths about how green a stimulus and clean energy investment plan might be. How is China considering carbon-intensive industry to restore economic growth? How is it thinking about the role of oil and gas, its relationship with the U.S. and its trade deal, and its leadership in the global climate arena? 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by two Center on Global Energy Policy experts, David Sandalow and Erica Downs, to discuss these questions. 

David Sandalow is the Inaugural Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and co-Director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He directs the Center’s U.S.-China Program and is the author of the Guide to Chinese Climate Policy. Last fall, he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University in China. David came to Columbia from the U.S. Department of Energy, where he served as Under Secretary of Energy (acting) and Assistant Secretary for Policy & International Affairs. Prior to serving at the Department of Energy, David was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He also served in the White House and as an Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of State.

Dr. Erica Downs is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy focusing on Chinese energy markets and geopolitics. Erica previously worked as a senior research scientist in the China Studies division of the CNA Corporation, a senior analyst in the Asia practice at Eurasia Group, a fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, and an energy analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. Erica holds a Ph.D and M.A. from Princeton University.

For more on Covid-19 and China's energy outlook, check out a new commentary from CGEP's Kevin Tu, COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impacts on China’s Energy Sector: A Preliminary Analysis.

Jun 1, 2020

Universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030 has been a goal of the United Nations since 2015. And much progress has been made, as the UN, the World Bank and other international organizations make clear in a new report. But there’s still a long way to go. And the pandemic raging around the world now will only make meeting the goal more difficult.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Makhtar Diop, the vice president for infrastructure at the World Bank. He leads the bank’s efforts to develop sustainable solutions and help close the infrastructure gap in developing and emerging economies.

Makhtar discusses the reasons behind the progress that has been made around the world and the impediments keeping the goal of universal access still out of the reach of so many people, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. The latest challenge, he notes, is the pandemic. 

He also explains what the World Bank is doing to alleviate these needs, including new initiatives in the works.

The Tracking SDG-7 Energy Progress Report was released by the UN Statistical Division, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.

Prior to taking on this current role at the World Bank in 2018, Makhtar was the institution’s vice president for Africa, where he oversaw the delivery of a record-breaking $70 billion to Sub-Saharan Africa to address development challenges, like increasing access to affordable and sustainable energy.

Prior to these and other roles at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Makhtar started his career in the banking sector and held government positions, including minister of economy and finance in his native Senegal.

He holds degrees in economics from the Universities of Warwick and Nottingham in England.

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