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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: Category: News and Politics
May 11, 2021

It’s been quite a tumultuous year for the oil and gas industry, from a historic pandemic that sent oil prices crashing to growing pressure and urgency for companies to align their strategies with the world’s escalating climate ambitions. Occidental Petroleum is one of those companies, which has faced those challenges and more, including how to manage the high profile acquisition of Anadarko shortly before the pandemic struck. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by the person navigating Occidental Petroleum through this period, its CEO, Vicki Hollub, who has been CEO since 2016. Vicki recently said Oxy would become not just an oil company but a carbon management company, and Jason asked her about that and more when they spoke a few days ago in front of a live virtual audience at the annual Climate Science and Investment Conference hosted by the Columbia Climate School and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School. 

During her 35-year career with Occidental, Vicki has held a variety of management and technical positions on three continents. Vicki started her career working on oil rigs in 1981, after graduating from the University of Alabama. She’s the most senior woman in the oil and gas sector and was the first woman to head a major American oil company. 

May 4, 2021

For years, Washington State has been a battleground over carbon pricing, with advocates of the idea suffering one defeat after another. But that’s no longer the case now that the state legislature has passed a cap-and-trade bill that some supporters say will set the gold standard for addressing climate change in the United States.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Mike Stevens, the Washington State director of The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental organization and one of the key players in the passage of the new Climate Commitment Act.

The bill is designed to reduce Washington State’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 through increasingly stringent restrictions on the state’s 100 biggest sources of emissions. They include refiners, gas utilities and Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company.

If Governor Jay Inslee signs the bill as expected, Washington will become the second state after California with a comprehensive cap-and-trade system.

Once it takes effect in 2023, the Washington measure is forecast to raise $460 million in its first full year and at least $580 million annually by 2040, according to a report in the Seattle Times. That’s money that would be spent on a broad range of activities that include restoration of marine and fresh waters, forest health, renewable energy and public transportation. Some would be set aside to assist workers and low-income residents move to a clean-energy economy.

It’s those plans that prompt supporters of the measure to call it “cap and invest” rather than cap and trade.

Mike has headed the Washington State chapter of the organization since 2012. He brings more than 20 years of experience in conservation, sustainable agriculture and field science to his role as state director. Previously, he was a western sheep rancher and land manager.

Mike and Bill talked about the elements of this new law and how they would work, as well as the political dynamics that enabled success for its supporters after so many setbacks. They also delve into some of the features of this bill that distinguish it from other carbon proposals. Among them is a focus on environmental justice.

Apr 27, 2021

President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate, which brought together forty world leaders to galvanize efforts by the major economies around the world to tackle climate change, ended on Friday with the United States pledging to reduce its carbon emissions by at least half by 2030, along with pledges from many other countries to reduce emissions as well. Even with the Biden administration’s unequivocal message to the world that America is back when it comes to global climate leadership, numerous challenges lie ahead--from the thorny US-China relationship, to the limits of Biden’s own ability to drive emissions cuts at home with a deeply divided Congress. That’s the difficult task facing Secretary John Kerry and other global climate leaders in the months ahead as they work toward a  November United Nations Climate Change Conference that aims to raise ambition among both governments and the private sector. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by David Sandalow to discuss last week’s climate summit and what lies ahead. 

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 founded and directs the Center’s U.S.-China Program and is author of the Guide to Chinese Climate Policy. He has also been a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University. David has held many senior government climate posts, including acting Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Energy, Assistant Secretary of State and Senior Director on the National Security Council staff. 

Apr 20, 2021

The importance of diversity in energy finance is gaining attention as more investors look closer at how companies are stacking up when it comes to the representation of women and minorities on their boards of directors and in their management ranks.

And it is not just the energy sector discovering this trend. It is taking place across corporations in the U.S. and around the world, a point illustrated in a new commentary from the Center on Global Energy Policy.

In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless joins two of the authors of that commentary, Maria Jelescu, the CEO of Ardinall Investment Management, and Jully Meriño Carela, the director of the Women in Energy (WIE) initiative at CGEP.

Maria also co-chairs the WIE steering committee and serves on the center’s advisory board. She and Jully co-authored the commentary with Amy Myers Jaffe, the managing director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University’s Fletcher School and a co-chair of the WIE steering committee.

In the commentary, the authors make clear that the social aspects of ESG -- or environmental, social and governance considerations -- are front and center now as pressure mounts on energy companies to address the gender and racial makeup of their operations and recognize the value of diversity to them.

The commentary is called “The Social Aspects of ESG Investing: Insights on Diversity in Energy Finance.”

The discussion is particularly timely now amid a new shareholder proxy season, as investors press companies on ESG factors, and the Biden administration signals that closer government scrutiny of these matters may be in order.

Maria founded Ardinall Investment in 2017 as a firm focused on sustainability and climate change solutions. Previously, she spent 15 years at Goldman Sachs in various investment roles. Jully worked in labor and nonprofit fields before joining the Center on Global Energy Policy and taking charge of the Women in Energy initiative. Its mission is to elevate women in the energy sector at all career stages.

The commentary can be found here.

Apr 13, 2021

As the first meetings take place between top Biden administration officials and their Chinese counterparts, the U.S. and China are beginning to map out how they plan to engage on climate change. Given diplomatic tensions between the two countries on such issues as trade, technology, and human rights, questions remain about whether the countries can cooperate to address the climate crisis.  

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Kelly Sims Gallagher to discuss what both the U.S. and China are doing domestically on climate change, and whether and how their actions may play out as cooperation or competition between the two nations. 

Kelly Sims Gallagher is Academic Dean and Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she directs the Climate Policy Lab and the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy. She served in the second term of the Obama Administration as a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as Senior China Advisor in the Special Envoy for Climate Change office at the U.S. State Department. 

Gallagher is the author of Titans of the Climate (The MIT Press 2018) and The Global Diffusion of Clean Energy Technologies: Lessons from China (MIT Press 2014), and dozens of other articles and book chapters.

Apr 6, 2021

There’s much afoot in Washington these days over the prospect of new policies to address climate change and to put the U.S. on more solid footing when it comes to consuming and producing energy. We’ll know more as time goes on as to whether the Biden administration and Congress can reach the difficult agreements necessary to put new policies in place.

Yet, even as we contemplate the possibilities, it’s worth taking a look back at how the U.S. energy policy has evolved over the years, especially during the 1970s, when energy crises roiled energy markets and Washington enacted more energy laws than at any other time.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless speaks with Jay Hakes, the author of a new book that looks closely at that era. It’s called “Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford and Carter, and Hard Choices in the 1970s.”

Jay is a former head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and former director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.

In his book, Jay describes events of the 1970s like the long gasoline lines amid the Arab oil embargo and the fall of the shah of Iran, the fuel shortages that closed schools and factories, the military and political tensions in the oil-rich Middle East and the sky-high inflation that wreaked havoc in the nation’s economy.

More to the point, he writes deeply about the perceptions of these events by the men who occupied the White House then, their determination to end U.S. reliance on foreign oil, and their successes and failures to persuade Congress to go along with their energy agendas.

In short, Jay tells us that the 1970s hold a pre-eminent place in the U.S. when it comes to energy, and he reminds us, as well, that actions then set the foundation for today’s energy production and consumption trends.

Mar 30, 2021

Innovation takes many forms and all of them are important as the U.S. and other countries look for ways to avoid a catastrophe from climate change. Over the years, the federal government in Washington has been a big contributor to science and technology in energy, the environment and other fields. And that’s likely to continue. But given the immensity of climate change and other challenges, new options for enabling breakthrough technology are important, too.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless reaches out to someone with a lot of experience with science and engineering in government, the private sector and finance. Arati Prabhakar was the head of the Defense Research Projects Agency at the U.S. Department of Defense, better known as DARPA, during the Obama administration and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology under President Bill Clinton.

Arati’s family emigrated to the U.S. from India when she was a young girl, and she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas Tech before heading to the California Institute of Technology, where she received a master’s degree in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in applied physics.

Between her stints in Washington at NIST and DARPA, she moved to Silicon Valley, where she was chief technology officer and senior vice president at Raychem Corp. and then vice president and president of Interval Research. Later, she was a partner with U.S. Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm.

Now, she’s back in Silicon Valley as a founder and the CEO of Actuate, which bills itself as a new kind of nonprofit organization, formed to contribute a fresh approach to society’s critical challenges, like climate change. In short, Arati sees a bigger role for philanthropy to play in addressing climate change.

Bill spoke with Arati about this new approach and why she thinks it fills a gap in public support for science and technology. They also talked about her experience in Washington, which over the years saw the U.S. government try different ways of advancing promising but risky technologies in energy and other fields. 

Mar 23, 2021

The window of opportunity to stabilize global temperature rise to 1.5°C is closing fast. And yet, recent trends point to an ever-widening gap between where we are and the pathway on which we need to be in order to achieve this target. 

Last week’s release of the World Energy Transitions Outlook preview from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) highlighted that gap. It also outlines global strategies towards carbon-neutrality by 2050. The report focuses not only on the end-point, but also what needs to happen now. It looks at the cost outlook for renewables, the suite of other technologies that will be needed as well, and how the transition will unfold differently in different regions of the world. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Francesco La Camera to discuss the Outlook report and its findings.

Francesco La Camera is the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Previously, Mr. La Camera served as Director-General of Sustainable Development, Environmental Damage, EU and International Affairs at the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land & Sea since 2014. He served as co-chair of the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development established in Rome and co-chaired the Financial Platform for Climate and Sustainable Development. He began his career as an economic analyst at the Italian Ministry of Budget and Planning.

Mar 16, 2021

Every piece of our modern life--from the coffee you may have had this morning, to the phone or laptop on which you are listening to this podcast, to the energy that charged it up--is built on the global flow of commodities. Coal, oil, metals, and much more. We don’t give much thought to where they come from or at what cost. But underlying today’s global economy is the secretive world of commodity trading, controlled for decades by a small number of firms led by a handful of billionaires. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy, two Bloomberg reporters with decades of experience between them covering energy and commodities, and the authors of the new book The World for Sale: Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources. In The World for Sale, Javier and Jack pull back the curtain on the shadowy world of commodity trading to reveal wild tales of adventure and financial booms, as well as corruption, bribery, and unethical behavior. They show how a small number of commodity trading firms most people have never heard of have shaped global trade, the environment, and the course of geopolitics. 

Javier Blas is the Chief Energy Correspondent of Bloomberg. He was previously the Financial Times’ commodities editor and a reporter with the Spanish business daily, Expansion. 

Jack Farchy is a Senior Reporter on Energy and Commodities at ‎Bloomberg. He formerly worked as the Moscow and Central Asia Correspondent, and a Commodity Markets Reporter, for the Financial Times.

Mar 9, 2021

The challenges of providing reliable and affordable supplies of electricity in the U.S., not to mention cleaner forms of power, have been evident recently with the rash of unusually cold weather in Texas. Millions of Texans were left without power and drinkable water for days as the state’s grid nearly collapsed.

And as worries grow over the frequency and intensity of big storms, the power sector as well as policymakers in Washington and the states are looking more closely at steps needed to assure the reliability of the grid even as climate change makes these events more worrisome.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Lynn Good, the chair, president and CEO of Duke Energy, one of America’s largest energy holding companies, with more than 7 million electric power customers in the Southeast and Midwest and nearly 2 million natural gas customers in five states.

Bill reached Lynn at Duke Energy’s headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to talk about the situation in Texas and what it might mean for utilities in other states, as well as her company’s goal of providing electricity with net-zero emissions by 2050, a target well short of the 2035 mark for that achievement set by President Biden and congressional Democrats.

Lynn and Bill touched as well on the similarities and differences in the cleaner-energy positions of the Biden administration and the power sector, and how she thinks the conversation could proceed to find some agreement on policies that would support a carbon-free power sector as soon as possible.

Lynn has been Duke Energy’s CEO since 2013, having served previously as the company’s chief financial officer and a leader of its commercial energy business. She began her utility career in 2003 with Cincinnati-based Cinergy, which merged with Duke Energy three years later. Prior to that, she was a partner at two international accounting firms, including a long career with Arthur Andersen.

Mar 2, 2021

Climate change is a top priority for the new Biden administration, starting with a slew of early executive orders signed during President Biden’s first week in office. In this “whole-of-government” approach to climate change, the Department of Energy is a key player not only in policy, but also basic research, commercialization, and deployment of new clean energy technologies which will be critical to get on a pathway to deep decarbonization. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Arun Majumdar to discuss the outlook for energy technology and climate policy under the Biden administration. 

Dr. Arun Majumdar is a Professor at Stanford University, a faculty member of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering and former Director and Senior Fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. He served as the Founding Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), and also served for a year as the Acting Under Secretary of Energy under President Obama. After leaving Washington, Arun was the Vice President for Energy at Google. He also led the energy agency review team for the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition, which covered the Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Arun received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Feb 22, 2021

Last week in Texas, millions of people experienced the loss of power during a recording-shattering cold snap and series of winter storms. Pundits and politicians have peddled ideologically driven narratives about what factors and energy sources deserve the blame for the catastrophic and life-threatening cascade of failures. Lawmakers and regulators have called for investigations into why the energy grid failed so miserably, and it will take some time to unpack the causes and consequences of last week’s crisis. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Cheryl LaFleur and Jesse Jenkins, two experts who have deep expertise in electricity and energy systems, for a deep dive into what we already know and what we don’t know about what happened in Texas.

Cheryl LaFleur is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE), the organization that plans and operates the power system and administers wholesale electricity markets for the New England region. Previously, Cheryl was one of the longest-serving commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), twice serving as its chair. 

Jesse Jenkins is an assistant professor at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment. He is a macro-scale energy systems engineer and leads a Princeton Lab focused on energy systems modeling to evaluate technology and policy options for net-zero emissions energy systems. He is a coauthor of a recent study from Princeton modeling scenarios to achieve net zero emissions in the US by 2050, which you can read more about in the cover story of this week’s Economist.

Feb 16, 2021

Saving energy is something generally seen as a good thing as a matter of public policy and business strategy. But for all its economic and environmental benefits, does saving energy get enough attention from policymakers, especially as a means of addressing climate change? And what more can be done to bring more of those savings to disadvantaged communities?

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Paula Glover, the new president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a 43-year-old coalition of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders with a bipartisan reputation for advocating advances in federal energy policy.

Paula has more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry, including 15 years with electric and natural gas distribution companies. Prior to her new job at the Alliance to Save Energy, she was the president and CEO of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, a nonprofit association dedicated to ensuring that African Americans and other minorities have input in the development of energy policy and regulations.

Bill and Paula talked about energy efficiency as a matter of public policy over the years and the potential for more initiatives to save energy under the new Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Congress. Paula made clear that she thinks a lot more could be done to promote energy efficiency as an effective response to climate change and a lucrative source of jobs for those displaced by the transition to cleaner energy.

She also emphasizes the importance of providing underserved populations and people of color with greater access to what she sees as the enormous economic opportunities of energy efficiency.

Feb 9, 2021

The commitment to acting on climate change by the Biden administration is attracting much attention, as President Biden outlines his agenda and appoints individuals to carry it out across the government.

But just as important, as they have always been, are steps being taken by states to curb emissions and promote cleaner forms of energy. And no state has been more of a leader on these issues than California.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to two of the leading energy reporters in California, which has been hard hit by the pandemic even as it copes with wildfires and other environmental disasters made worse by climate change.

Sammy Roth covers energy for the Los Angeles Times and writes the weekly “Boiling Point”. He previously reported for the Desert Sun and USA Today, where he focused on renewable energy, climate change, electric utilities and public lands. He holds a bachelor of arts in sustainable development from Columbia University, where he was the editor in chief of the Columbia Daily Spectator.

J.D. Morris is a business reporter covering PG&E and the coronavirus for the San Francisco Chronicle. Before joining the Chronicle, he was the Sonoma County government reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, where he was among journalists awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the 2017 North Bay wildfires.

Both Sammy and J.D. are past participants in the Energy Journalism Initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy which helps energy journalists gain a deeper understanding of complex issues associated with the beat. CGEP is now accepting applications from energy journalists for the 2021 EJI seminar in June. More information is available on the CGEP website.

In their conversation, Bill, Sammy and J.D. discuss the impact of the pandemic in California and the implications of it for efforts to address climate change. They also delve into the status of various climate policies undertaken in the Golden State, including its cap-and-trade program and steps taken at the state and local level to promote electric vehicles and restrict installation of natural gas service in new residential and commercial buildings.

Feb 2, 2021

President Biden’s first days in office mark a sharp shift in US climate and energy policy, with a slew of executive orders reversing several Trump actions and directing federal agencies to pursue a wide range of new regulations in what’s been framed as “a whole-of-government approach” to the climate crisis. Combined with Democrats now in control of both houses of Congress by the slimmest of majorities, the raft of executive orders raises the question of how climate policy will advance going forward. To what extent will it advance through legislation versus executive action? To what extent will legislative action be on party lines? Will there be opportunities for bipartisan cooperation on climate? 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Rich Powell to discuss what to expect in climate policy moving forward, particularly on the Republican side of the aisle.  

Rich Powell is the Executive Director of ClearPath and ClearPath Action, the DC-based organizations developing and advancing conservative policies that accelerate clean energy innovation. Rich frequently testifies before Congress on climate change and energy innovation. He served as a member of the 2019 Advisory Committee to the Export Import Bank of the United States, and is on the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center’s Advisory Group. Previously, Rich was with McKinsey & Company in the Energy and Sustainability practices. He holds a B.A. from Harvard College in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and a J.D. from New York University.

Jan 26, 2021

President Biden has quickly followed through on his commitment to address climate change with a series of executive orders aimed at undoing the policies of the Trump administration and appointments across the government to carry out his ambitious agenda. But his plans will also require the approval of Congress to provide the necessary funding and legislative authority.

Given the political divides in Washington, there are plenty of questions about Biden’s ability to win over the new Congress even with his party in charge of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Heidi Heitkamp, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, for some informed insight on the dynamics on Capitol Hill. Senator Heitkamp is known as a middle-of-the-road politician, one who worked with Republicans as well as members of her own party in search of legislative solutions. Among her priorities then and now is a commitment to making sure rural states like North Dakota have a say in national debates over major issues like energy and climate change.

She served in the Senate from 2013 to 2019, and had assignments on the Agriculture, Banking and Homeland Security committees. Earlier in her career, she was an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency before completing two terms as North Dakota state tax commissioner and two terms as the state’s attorney general. After leaving Congress, she co-founded the One Country Project to reopen rural dialogue between voters and Democrats.

Recently, the Bipartisan Policy Center named Senator Heitkamp co-chair of its new Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Task Force and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics made her a 2021 Pritzker Fellow.

Among the topics Bill and Senator Heitkamp discuss are the prospects for President Biden’s priorities for funding and legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promote cleaner forms of energy, including new jobs. Bill and Senator Heitkamp also talk about some of her former colleagues in Congress and their potential influence on energy and climate issues, as well as the outlook for oil and natural gas and the potential for emerging technologies like carbon capture and sequestration.

Jan 19, 2021

Joe Biden is selecting a large, experienced and diversified team to carry out his ambitious program to address climate change. Among them are John Kerry, the former secretary of state; Gina McCarthy, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Jennifer Granholm, once the governor of Michigan; and Deb Haaland, a member of Congress who would be the first Native American named to a president’s Cabinet.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless discusses the Biden administration’s climate change goals and his planned appointments with Carol Browner, who spearheaded climate policy for President Barack Obama following his inauguration in 2009.

With a long and distinguished career in environmental and energy policy and regulation at the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House, Carol brings unique insight to the challenges of implementing new policies and the wherewithal that’s needed to make it happen.

Carol now is a senior counselor in the sustainability practice at the Allbright Stonebridge Group, or ASG, where she advises clients on environmental impact, sustainable strategies, and partnerships. But her roles in government go back some 30 years.

From 2009 to 2011, she was an assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, where she oversaw the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport and related policy across the federal government. During that time, the White House secured the largest investment ever in clean energy and established a national car policy that included both new fuel efficiency standards and the first-ever greenhouse gas reductions.

From 1993 through 2001, she was administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, where she adopted the most stringent air pollution standards in U.S. history and set for the first time a clean air standard for fine particulates. Her stint at EPA is the longest ever for an administrator at that agency.

She had state experience, as well, having served as secretary of environmental regulation in Florida from 1991 through 1993.

Among her other involvements, she’s the chair of the board of the League of Conservation Voters.

Among the topics that Carol and Bill cover are the challenges the Biden administration faces in fulfilling its sweeping plans to address climate change as well as the roles that his appointments of Kerry, McCarthy and others will play in that undertaking. They also talk about the outlook for congressional action on climate change at a time when Biden and lawmakers will also be consumed with addressing a pandemic and economic troubles, not to mention the repercussions of President Trump’s impeachment.

Jan 12, 2021

The attack on the U.S. Capitol may have obscured for the moment the traditional transfer of power that will take place with the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. But even amid the ongoing turmoil in Washington, efforts to set agendas in the new administration and the new Congress on important policy matters, like climate change, continue to take place.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless turns to two of the most experienced reporters covering energy and climate change: Amy Harder of Axios and Steve Mufson of The Washington Post

The political climate has changed considerably in recent days. And it’s not only because of the violence on Capitol Hill. Significantly, Democrats will now control the Senate as well as the House of Representatives and the White House.

Bill, Amy and Steve talk about the hostility at the Capitol, which had taken place just a day before their conversation and sets a troubling tone for governance in Washington as the year 2021 begins.

That said, they look at the aggressive plans for energy and climate policy by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their options for acting on them quickly. They discuss, as well, the makeup of the new Congress and some of the lawmakers whose impact on policy is likely to be felt.

Regulation comes up, too, especially the potential for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to step up their oversight of the impacts of climate change.

Amy has been with Axios for four years, with her column, the “Harder Line,” a regular feature of the news service. Previously, she was a reporter at the Wall Street Journal and National Journal.

Steve has worked at The Post since 1989, covering the White House, China, economic policy and diplomacy as well as energy. His current beat is the business of climate change. Earlier, he worked at the Wall Street Journal in New York, London and Johannesburg.

As he talks to these senior reporters, Bill calls attention to the Center on Global Energy Policy’s Energy Journalism Initiative, which gives energy reporters an opportunity to learn more about complex topics associated with the beat, like science, technology, markets and policy, all with an eye toward helping them in their work. Some 80 journalists from the U.S. and abroad have participated in EJI since its inception in 2017, and details of this year's program will be announced soon.

Jan 5, 2021

What lies in store for energy and climate policy in the U.S. and other nations in 2021? With a new administration in Washington committed to addressing climate change forcefully and new commitments to reducing emissions by other governments around the world, the potential for making headway on this existential threat seems possible, though significant challenges remain.

In this first edition of Columbia Energy Exchange in 2021, host Bill Loveless is joined by Rachel Kyte, the dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University. With her distinguished career at the World Bank and the United Nations and now in academia, she’s an ideal guest to help think about what the new year will mean for energy and climate policy not only in the U.S. but also globally.

A 2002 graduate of Fletcher’s Global Master of Arts Program, Dean Kyte returned to the school outside Boston in 2012 as a professor of practice and was named the 14th dean of the Fletcher School in 2019. She’s the first woman to lead the nation’s oldest graduate-only school of international affairs.

Prior to joining Fletcher, Dean Kyte was a special representative of the UN secretary general and chief executive officer of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Before that, she was a vice president and special envoy for climate change at the World Bank.

A native of England, she earned her undergraduate degree in history and politics from the University of London.

In their conversation, Dean Kyte and Bill talk about the increasing risks posed by climate change as we begin 2021 and the challenges facing world leaders, including President-elect Joe Biden, in setting agendas and building public support for emissions reductions. Diplomacy, of course, will matter significantly as the U.S. rejoins the Paris climate agreement, and Dean Kyte offers her insight on how relations among the U.S. and other nations might play out.

They also talk about the state of climate activism today, especially as it pertains to young people, as well as environmental justice and the role of women in energy.

Dec 15, 2020

The energy sector is in the midst of historic transformation, including rapid technological progress and declining clean energy costs, growing urgency to address climate change - with the impacts of climate change increasingly evident, rising headwinds for the oil and gas sector, the short- and long-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and growing ambition to address climate change with more countries, financial institutions, and corporations announcing long-term net zero emissions targets. That even includes some oil and gas companies, and among those announcing the most ambitious long term goals has been BP. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Spencer Dale, BP’s group chief economist, to discuss the outlook for the energy sector, the impact of the pandemic on it, BP’s corporate strategy shift, and more. Spencer is responsible for the annual BP Energy Outlook, which tries to make sense of where the energy sector is in the midst of the pandemic, and where it might be headed in different scenarios.

Prior to this role, Spencer served as executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England and was a member of its Financial Policy Committee. Between 2008 and 2014, Spencer was chief economist of the Bank of England and a member of the Monetary Policy Committee. 

Dec 8, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden is poised to implement an ambitious climate change agenda across the federal government, encompassing domestic to foreign policy.

A team of former high-level Obama administration officials and experts recently released a 300-page blueprint called the Climate 21 Project, which is intended to lay out a path for the incoming Biden administration to deliver a whole-of-government approach to climate change and a climate policy response starting on Inauguration Day. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Christy Goldfuss, co-chair of the Climate 21 Project along with Duke University’s Tim Profeta, to talk about the findings of the project as well as what Biden’s climate agenda will look like more broadly, what would be possible with a presumably divided congress, her career across public lands, the environmental movement, and climate change, and what she’s doing now at the Center for American Progress. 

Christy Goldfuss is the Senior Vice President for Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress. She previously served as managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) during the Obama administration. 

Prior to her work at CEQ, Christy was the deputy director of the National Park Service. She also worked on the legislative staff of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and previously worked as a television news reporter. She obtained her undergraduate degree in political science from Brown University. 

Dec 2, 2020

Philanthropy has a unique and critical role to play in tackling the climate crisis, with the potential to increase global ambition, create new climate solutions, innovate new technologies, scale proven mitigation strategies, and drive collaboration between the public and private sector. 

But there are many different theories of change in the advocacy community. There are different views about the role of technology, how to integrate correcting historical racial and equity injustices into climate action, and how to build political support to drive policy change. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Jane Flegal to discuss the governance, science and decision-making processes needed to unlock climate action and new innovation. 

Jane Flegal is a Program Officer in the Environment program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, where she leads U.S. grantmaking to combat climate change and support a clean energy transition. Jane previously served as a senior program officer for the environment program at The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust in New York. She has been a policy analyst, published academic research, and taught and lectured in universities.

Jane holds a doctorate in environmental science, policy, and management from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Mount Holyoke College.

Nov 17, 2020

With a population of 1.4 billion people and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India is crucial to the future of global energy markets and climate change - and coal is fueling much of that economic growth in India. Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel and is responsible for more than 40 percent of energy-related global carbon emissions. Over the next five years, India’s coal demand is expected to grow more than that of any other country in the world. In short, there’s no pathway to global decarbonization that does not include meaningfully changing the trajectory of India’s current and projected coal use. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Rahul Tongia, author of the new book “Future of Coal in India: Smooth Transition or Bumpy Road Ahead?” to help shed light on that very subject. 

Dr. Rahul Tongia is a Senior Fellow with the Centre for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi, where he leads its Energy, Natural Resources, and Sustainability group. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He was the founding Technical Advisor for the Government of India’s Smart Grid Task Force. He holds a PhD in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering from Brown University.

You can read Dr. Tongia's blog post about his book here.

Nov 10, 2020

What lies in store for buildings, transportation and electric power as we make the transition to a lower-carbon society? And how prepared will we be to adapt to changes in technology that sometimes seem faster than the speed of light?

In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber, the authors of a new book that explores how automation, artificial intelligence and other groundbreaking technologies will change the buildings we occupy, the vehicles we travel in and the electric grid that we rely on to power it all. Aptly, it’s called “The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power.”

Roger and Michael start with a look at the basic principles shaping our future infrastructure, and then describe how buildings, transportation and the power grid will evolve into sentient-appearing machines. And that’s not all! They also explore what they say it will be like to live, work and move about inside robots. “Think of it, if you like, as a magical journey,” they say.

Roger is the former manager of Austin Energy, the municipal utility for Austin, Texas, recognized as a leader in renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart-grid activities. Previously, he served in various manager roles for Austin Energy and the City of Austin. He was elected twice to the Austin City Council.

Michael is the chief science and technology officer for Engie, a global energy and infrastructure services firm headquartered in Paris, as well as the Josey Centennial Professor in Energy Resources at the University of Texas at Austin. His previous books include “Power Trip: The Story of Energy,” published in 2019 and made into a documentary series for the U.S. public broadcaster PBS in 2020.

Bill reached Roger in Austin and Michael in Paris to talk about the new book, including:

  • What new light they shed on the outlook for buildings, transportation and power;
  • What they mean when they say “in the future we will be living, working, and moving about inside robots”;
  • Why political and policy change moves slower than technological change, and how this mismatch can inhibit progress; and
  • What impact the pandemic will have on the pace of change.
Oct 27, 2020

The clean energy transition in the U.S. and around the world will require major infrastructure build-outs of all kinds: power lines for renewables, offshore wind, battery storage, pipelines for CO2, hydrogen, port infrastructure, and much more. What investments are needed, how and when they will play out, what’s the role of government vs. private sector--all of this will look different in different parts of the world. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Matthew Harris to discuss what capital allocation and clean technology infrastructure is needed to support a new era of decarbonization. 

Matthew is a founding partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, one of the world’s largest infrastructure investors which currently manages $70 billion in assets. Prior to the formation of Global Infrastructure Partners in 2006, Matthew was a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Department at Credit Suisse, where he was Co-Head of the Global Energy Group. He’s a graduate of UCLA, serves as a member of the World Wildlife Fund Board of Directors, and also helps lead the work of CGEP as the chairman of the board. 

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