From California wildfires and Gulf Coast hurricanes to flooding in China and Pakistan, the impacts of climate change have grown increasingly evident this year. And whether it is agricultural workers, low-income and minority communities, or the world’s poorest in the Global South, the severe inequities in who bears the burden of climate change as well as in air and water pollution is also receiving growing recognition. Journalists play a critical role in telling the stories that help illuminate how climate change affects families and workers around the world.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by one of the leading reporters today writing about the links between a warming planet and such issues as race, conflict, natural disasters, and big tech: Somini Sengupta at The New York Times.
Somini is the international climate reporter for The New York Times. A George Polk Award-winning foreign correspondent, she previously worked in other capacities at The New York Times as its United Nations correspondent, West Africa bureau chief, and South Asia bureau chief. Somini has covered nine conflicts, including Darfur, Iraq, Syria and Sri Lanka. In 2016, she wrote a book called The End Of Karma about the exploding youth population in India and what that might mean for the future of India and the world. She grew up in India, Canada and the United States, graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.
The energy sector landscape is experiencing profound change, complexity and uncertainty--from the impacts of Covid-19 on the global economy and the prospect of reaching peak oil demand, to a rapidly rising recognition of the urgency of combating climate change and accelerated investments in low-carbon technologies. The United Arab Emirates is at the center of these shifts, both as a major Middle Eastern producer of oil and gas but also as an investor in new emerging technologies and low-carbon energy sources.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum & Petrochemicals platform at Mubadala, a sovereign investment firm in Abu Dhabi. Jason and Musabbeh discuss what sectors and regions a company like Mubadala is prioritizing in its investment decisions, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and ambitious regional and corporate carbon policy commitments.
Prior to his current role, Musabbeh was the CEO of Mubadala Petroleum, Mubadala’s exploration and production company, from 2014 to 2017. Musabbeh holds a degree in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and a Master of Science in Petroleum Geoscience from Imperial College, London.
The offshore wind energy industry is on the cusp of breaking out in the U.S., with the government anticipating 2,000 turbines with 22 gigawatts of capacity in federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean over 10 years.
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Thomas Brostrøm, whose company is a leader in the industry around the world. Thomas is the president of Ørsted North America and CEO for Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind. He joined Bill from Boston to talk about plans that Ørsted Energy has to build wind farms in waters up and down the U.S. East Coast.
All told, Ørsted has 10 offshore wind farms in the U.S., including ones in Rhode Island and Virginia that are the first to operate in this country.
Throughout the world, Ørsted has built more offshore wind farms than any other developer. By 2022, it expects to expand its offshore wind capacity to nearly 10 gigawatts, with projects in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
This from a business once known as Danish Oil and Gas Company. Thomas and Bill talk about the transition that Ørsted has undergone in recent years and whether it serves as a model for other fossil fuel companies looking to move into greener forms of energy.
They also look at the policy and economic factors promoting investments in U.S. offshore wind by Ørsted and other companies, the economic development that could accompany the industry’s emergence here, and the challenges it faces in moving ahead.
Prior to joining Ørsted, Thomas was in the investment banking and venture capital business.
Building a low-carbon future will bring significant change to the U.S. economy, especially to employment as alternative forms of energy increasingly take hold. And to go smoothly, that transition will require sound public policy and public support.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Richard Trumka, the president and CEO of the AFL-CIO, and former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the president and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative. Earlier this year, their organizations formed the Labor Energy Partnership to promote energy policies that promote economic, racial and gender equity based on quality jobs and the preservation of workers’ rights, all the while addressing the growing climate crisis.
In exclusive podcast discussion, President Trumka and Secretary Moniz explain a new report by the Labor Energy Partnership that lays out the opportunities and pitfalls of such sweeping changes in the economy. The report, called “Energy Transitions: The Framework for Good Jobs in a Low-CarbonFuture,” makes the case that this industrial transition is both different from those in the past and urgently needed because of the existential threat of climate change.
The report opens by acknowledging that industrial transitions have rarely been smooth. In fact, it notes they have been typically marked by community and worker dislocations with significant regional disparities, disproportionate impacts on minority communities, and fraying of existing social institutions.
The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the U.S., and the Energy Futures Initiative is a Washington-based non-profit dedicated to promoting a clean-energy future.
Richard Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009 after having served as secretary treasurer of the federation since 1995. Previously, he was president of the United Mine Workers from 1982 to 1995.
Ernest Moniz founded the Energy Futures Initiative in 2017. He is also the co-chair and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Dr. Moniz was the U.S. energy secretary from 2013 to 2017 and an under secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1997 to 2001.
A long-time member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was also founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative.
In his latest book, The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations,” noted energy historian Daniel Yergin captures a screenshot of the energy world as it stands in 2020, both in the shifting balance and rising tensions among nations, and in the dramatic reshaping of global energy supplies and flows. Understanding how geopolitics and energy interact is no easy feat, as even before this year’s coronavirus-induced shock to the global energy markets, the landscape was already being rapidly transformed by such factors as the American-led shale revolution, a new cold war between the United States and Russia, deep tensions in the U.S.-China relationship, the Middle East’s own reckoning with the energy transition, and of course, the urgent challenge of climate change.
Daniel Yergin is a highly respected authority on energy, international politics, and economics. His classic book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, became a bestseller, won a Pulitzer Prize, and put Dr. Yergin on the map as one of the world’s leading thinkers on energy and its vast geopolitical and economic implications. In decades since, Dan has continued to chronicle the global energy system. Going back to Shattered Peace, his first book, his writings from The Prize, updated in 20008, to The Quest and many others have provided the historical perspective for understanding many of today’s energy and security challenges.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Yergin to discuss his new book and what's ahead for energy geopolitics and the energy transition.
Daniel Yergin is vice chairman of IHS Markit and co-founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Daniel received the United States Energy Award for “lifelong achievements in energy and the promotion of international understanding,” and the U.S. Department of Energy awarded him the first James Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security.
Dr. Yergin is a director of the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior trustee of the Brookings Institution. He is a member of the National Petroleum Council, a director of the United States Energy Association, and of the US-Russia Business Council. He is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative and of the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy and of Singapore’s International Energy Advisory Board. Dr. Yergin holds a BA from Yale University, where he founded The New Journal, and a PhD from Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, California experienced rolling blackouts in August as record high temperatures placed unusual stress on the state’s electric power grid. The inconvenience to millions of Californians raised questions about the reliability of the grid as the state implements aggressive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through greater reliance on solar and wind power and other cleaner energy solutions.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless reached out to Cheryl LaFleur, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy, for her take on the blackouts, which she wrote about in an op-ed in “State of the Planet,” an online blog at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
They talk about what caused the blackouts during the weekend of August 14, when an extreme heat wave blanketed California and other western states, as well as how they compared to the last such occurrences during the California energy crisis of 2001.
In short, Cheryl says, the problem isn’t California’s solar and wind systems, which operated just as they were supposed to do, but rather the state’s failure to make sure there were other energy resources to meet peak demands for electricity – especially for air conditioning to cope with the heat – when the sun wasn’t shining and the wind wasn’t blowing. Adding to the difficulty is California’s preference to control its own power market rather than participate in a regional market, she says.
Bill and Cheryl discuss that as well as the political fall-out from the blackouts, with critics of the state’s climate policies claiming those measures risk the reliability of the California grid, while supporters of those policies saying they’re as necessary as ever to combat climate change.
Of course, with California and much of the rest of the Pacific Northwest suffering from a record spree of wildfires, there’s no avoiding talking about the magnitude of climate-related catastrophes occurring now and the extent to which they affect efforts to transition to cleaner, reliable forms of energy.
Cheryl was one of the longest-serving members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, nominated by President Obama in 2010 and serving until 2019. She was the chairman from 2014-15 and acting chairman from 2013-14 and in 2017.
Earlier, she had more than 20 years of experience as a leader in the electric and natural gas industry, including serving as executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA.
The oil and natural gas sectors have been reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on demand for fuels, and that includes liquefied natural gas. U.S. LNG exports fell from a record high of 8 billion cubic feet a day in January to 3.1 BCF a day in July, prompting some new projects to postpone final investment decisions.
Among them was Tellurian, a Houston-based company co-founded in 2016 by a U.S. LNG pioneer, Charif Souki.
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Charif to get his take on this latest challenge for the U.S. LNG sector. After all, he’s seen this business grow from the start, having founded Cheniere Energy, the largest U.S. LNG exporter, back in 1996, before moving on to Tellurian.
Bill and Charif talked about the circumstances leading to the decline in LNG trade this year and the outlook for a recovery. Interestingly, Charif acknowledged that he’s been surprised by some developments.
They also touched on the fundamental changes in LNG trade, especially involving how the commodity is priced now, as well as on the implications for LNG of the closer scrutiny that natural gas is getting because of its greenhouse gas emissions.
Tellurian’s proposed Driftwood LNG project near Lake Charles, Louisiana, would cost more than $27 billion, including pipelines to deliver natural gas to the export facility. The project has all the required permitting to begin construction, but Tellurian has put off a final investment decision until 2021 in light of the market turmoil this year.
Charif is the executive chairman of Tellurian’s board. He also serves on the advisory board of the Center on Global Energy Policy. He received a B.A. from Colgate University and an MBA from Columbia.
2020 has been a historic year in energy markets, with a dramatic price crash caused by a collapse in economic activity resulting from the pandemic. In recent weeks, major oil and gas companies around the world have been reporting their worst quarterly results in history and seem to be positioning themselves for prolonged pain still to come. Yet we have also seen several companies reaffirm commitments to a net-zero carbon future by 2050, and we continue to have rising concern and evidence of the tangible impacts of climate change around the world. This all raises the question of whether the pandemic will be an accelerator or decelerator of the energy transition, and how leading oil and gas companies are responding to today’s uncertain and challenging environment.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Mario Mehren, who leads the largest independent oil and gas company in Europe.
Mario Mehren is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Wintershall Dea. He was previously responsible for the company’s activities in Exploration and Production in Russia, North Africa and South Africa. Before joining Wintershall, Mario worked as a specialist adviser in the BASF Group’s Corporate Finance Department before becoming the Head of Finance and Accounting at BASF Schwarzheide and later its Managing Director of Finance and Administration. Mario studied business administration at Saarland University in Saarbrüken.
Politics is critical to understanding the development of climate policy in the United States, particularly the interest groups influencing the process and the feedback that new laws and regulations experience once they have been enacted.
That’s what political scientist Leah Stokes tells us in her new book, “Short Circuiting Policy,” whose subtitle is “Interest Groups and the Battle Over Clean Energy and Climate Policy in the American States.”
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Leah about her book and its look at climate policies in different states. The discussion is particularly timely now in the aftermath of a scandal in Ohio, one of the states she writes about in the book.
Bill and Leah delve into the situation in Ohio, where an FBI investigation involving a state law providing aid to struggling nuclear and coal power plants led to the arrest of a prominent state legislator and others in an alleged bribery scheme.
They also discuss the ebb and flow of climate policies in states as utilities and other interest groups vie over proposals to implement policies that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Leah is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and the Environmental Studies Department at UC, Santa Barbara.
She completed her PhD in public policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and a master’s degree from MIT’s Political Science Department. Before that, she earned an MPA in environmental science and policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Earth Institute, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and East Asian studies at the University of Toronto.
She’s also worked at the Canadian Parliament and the think tank Resources for the Future.
Despite much progress in meeting the ambitious goal of attaining universal access to sustainable and modern energy, nearly 800 million people still lack access to electricity. Even more lack access to clean cooking fuels. This has serious health, gender, economic, and climate consequences -- and those are especially evident during this pandemic when access to basic health and safety protocols, medical services and clean water is hampered in many parts of the world.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by one of the world’s leaders responsible for addressing this crisis, Damilola Ogunbiyi. She is CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.
Special Representative Ogunbiyi previously served as the first female Managing Director of the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency. In a prior role, Damilola worked in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Office of the Vice President as Senior Special Assistant to the President on Power and Head of the Advisory Power Team. Damilola was also the first female to be appointed as General Manager of the Lagos State Electricity Board. She first entered public service as the Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Public-Private Partnerships, and prior to her appointment, she was a consultant for the United Kingdom Department for International Development on public-private partnerships.
Young people around the world are speaking out increasingly about the dangers of climate change and taking actions, too, to reduce the risks of global warming in their lifetimes.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Akshat Rathi, the editor of a new book called "United We Are Unstoppable," a collection of essays by 60 young people about their determination to save the world from climate change.
The book is a stirring collection of stories about the impacts of climate change that are already taking place or are likely to do so in the future from activists, many of them from developing countries where the results of global warming often go unnoticed.
Bill and Akshat discuss this new book, the message it sends and its significance at a time when the risks of climate change loom large, especially for generations that will live through it this century.
Based in London, Akshat writes for Bloomberg about people and their ideas for tackling climate change. Previously, he was a senior reporter at Quartz and a science editor at The Conversation. He has also worked for The Economist and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Akshat has a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Oxford and a degree in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai. He was a 2018 participant in the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative, a program at the Center on Global Energy Policy that helps energy journalists deepen their understanding of complex topics associated with energy and environmental issues.
Long a leader in progressive climate change legislation, the European Union doubled down on those ambitions this week as it pushed forward a groundbreaking green stimulus package to revive its pandemic-ravaged economies. On July 21, 2020, EU leaders reached agreement, subject to ratification by the European Parliament and national legislatures, on their new green stimulus, a package entitled Next Generation EU. This package will make fighting climate change central to Europe’s recovery, with large sums earmarked for green investments and carbon reduction goals. There remains disagreement about the package and criticism from some member states that are heavily dependent on hydrocarbons, as well as from some environmentalists who say it doesn't go far enough. At the end of last week, the EU parliament approved a non-binding resolution criticizing the deal.
On this episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by someone who has been at the forefront of the EU’s response, Executive Vice President of the European Commission in Charge of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans. Frans Timmermans is a Dutch politician and diplomat who has served as First Vice President of the European Commission since 2014. Since December 2019, he has served as the Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal and simultaneously as the European Commissioner for Climate Action. He was previously Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs for the Netherlands. Earlier in his career, he was a member of the Dutch House of Representatives for the Labour Party and a civil servant in the diplomatic service of the Netherlands before becoming active in politics.
What policies help stimulate economic activity, can be done in a reasonably quick timeframe, and also help address climate change? They discuss what's included in the Next Generation EU package and what the deal might mean for carbon reduction, climate change and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the EU and around the world.
In the last few weeks, we've seen numerous events with implications for how to think about the twin challenges of developing the energy resources we need while also protecting our public lands, curbing climate change, and protecting the environment. There have been setbacks for three major U.S. pipeline projects, all rooted in flaws that courts found in environmental review processes; a new announcement by President Trump about a “top to bottom overhaul” of the nation’s environmental review process, a cornerstone of the landmark environmental law President Nixon signed half a century ago; and ambitious new plans announced by Vice President Biden to dramatically increase clean energy investments.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by David J. Hayes to discuss what all these changes might mean for energy infrastructure projects on federal lands moving forward, along with other issues like what’s next for clean energy and climate policy, how states are responding to the Trump administration’s recent environmental rollbacks, and much more.
David J. Hayes is an environmental, energy and natural resources lawyer who leads the State Energy and Impact Center at the NYU School of Law, which supports state attorneys general in their advocacy for clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies. David previously served as the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Interior for President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He’s also been a visiting lecturer at Stanford Law School, is a member of the board of the Coalition for Green Capital, and is founder of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance. Earlier in his career, he worked in private law practice as global chair of the Environment, Land and Resources Department at Latham & Watkins.
To one extent or another, governments around the world are trying to decide how to recover from the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes measures that might also minimize the risks of climate change. In the U.S., those discussions are increasingly reflecting acknowledgement of racial and environmental justice.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Justin Worland, Time magazine’s reporter covering energy, the environment and climate. Justin spoke with Bill as Time is out with a new double issue largely dedicated to climate change.
Justin wrote the cover story headlined “One Last Chance: The Defining Year for the Planet.” He also filed another piece for this edition called “Why the Larger Climate Movement is Finally Embracing the Fight Against Environmental Racism.”
Bill and Justin talk about what makes 2020 so important for addressing climate change. In fact, Justin writes that this year may be the most pivotal yet in the fight against climate change.
In his second piece, Justin recalls a fire at a Philadelphia refinery in 2019 in explaining why environmental racism is getting more attention amid much broader protests over systemic racism in America.
Bill and Justin also touch on coverage of these issues now and in the past, and the challenges the pandemic presents for Justin and other reporters trying to cover events first hand.
Justin joined Time in 2014. He graduated Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in history.
A new report from Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis calls for comprehensive actions by the U.S. Congress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. as quickly as possible, make communities more resilient to climate change, and build a durable and equitable clean energy economy.
Called “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient and Just America,” the 550-page report contains hundreds of recommendations. Some call it the most far-reaching report on climate change to ever appear on Capitol Hill.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless reached the chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Rep. Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat, soon after the report was released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Castor. It was the second appearance on Columbia Energy Exchange by Rep. Castor, who first sat down with Bill last fall when the committee was still gathering material for the report.
Among the report's specific goals are 100% net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and net negative emissions in the second half of the century. The report would also require a clean energy standard for the electric power sector; a standard to ensure that all light duty vehicles sold by 2035 are zero emission; and similar emission requirements for all new commercial and residential construction by 2030.
It comes after a year of hearings, meetings, research and other actions by the panel to come up with a comprehensive climate strategy. Originally due to be released earlier this year, the report was postponed because of the pandemic.
In their latest discussion, Bill and Rep. Castor talk about the report’s recommendations and the outlook for action on it in Washington at a time when the U.S. is struggling with a pandemic, protests over racial inequality and an economic downturn, not to mention a national election in the fall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy, there’s considerable discussion underway about steps that can be taken to get business and consumers back on track. Much of that talk involves energy initiatives that the federal government could undertake. But states have important roles to play, too. Among them is Virginia, which just recently became the first southern state to adopt a 100% clean energy standard.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Anthony Artuso, an executive scholar at the University of Virginia’s Center for Economic and Policy Studies, just weeks after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the new Virginia Clean Economy Act.
Anthony is part of a team at the UVA center working on clean energy modeling and policy analysis in Virginia. He’s also collaborating with a group of faculty and staff at UVA’s Darden Graduate School of Business on economic and sustainability issues, focusing again on clean energy.
In addition to his work at UVA, Anthony is a member of the advisory board of the 100% Clean Energy Collaborative convened by the Clean Energy States Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations working together to advance clean energy. Previously, he did research and consulting for U.S. government agencies, state governments, the World Bank and the UN on issues related to clean energy, environmental policy and sustainable development.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Columbia University, a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a PhD in natural resource policy and management at Cornell University.
Bill reached Anthony at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to take a massive toll on the U.S. economy, causing widespread job loss and suffering. Congress and the Federal Reserve have moved quickly to respond with trillions of dollars of support, and the Democratic House last week passed another stimulus bill for a staggering $3 trillion. As governments around the world spend money to support businesses and workers, there is a critically important conversation to be had about how we spend that money and whether it is possible to not just get the economy back on its feet, but build a cleaner economy too and make investments today that will help to advance the clean energy transition.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Jason Furman to hear about how the progressive economic policy community thinks about greening economic recovery. From an economic standpoint, what needs to be done to rebuild the economy, what are the criteria for smart stimulus policies, and how might other social objectives like climate change be considered through that lens.
Jason is Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. He is also nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Previously, he served for eight years as a top economic advisor to President Obama, including as his chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. He also worked at the Brookings Institution, where he worked with Jason Bordoff, and was a Director of the Hamilton Project and Senior Fellow. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
Few countries are as important to the outlook for energy demand and climate change as is India. It uses huge amounts of coal, was projected to be one of the biggest drivers of growth in oil use, and has ambitious targets to grow both the use of renewables and natural gas. So how does the Covid-19 pandemic change that outlook - with weeks of strict lockdown measures by India’s 1.3 billion people cratering transportation activity and other energy use? The skies over normally polluted Indian cities turned clear, and more blue. Now with the economy starting to open up, what are the consequences for energy use, for carbon emissions, and for local air pollution?
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff explores these and other questions with The Honorable Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Minister Pradhan is India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel. He previously served as the Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship during Prime Minister Modi’s first term. As Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, he has guided decision-making around production, supply distribution and pricing of petroleum, as well as India’s overall energy sector development.
A transcript of the conversation is available here.
Today's global pandemic is testing the limits of people’s ability to cope with massive disruption in their lives, including steps they take for the public good. And there may be lessons there regarding our response to climate change.
In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Robert H. Frank, a professor of management and economics at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and the author of a new book from Princeton University Press called Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work. They discuss human behavior in a crisis, whether it is the COVID-19 pandemic that we are enduring today, or the climate catastrophe that we may be just beginning to experience.
In his book, Robert explains how the strongest predictor of our willingness to support climate friendly policies, install solar panels or buy an electric car is the number of people we know who have already done so. And while climate change may not be uppermost in people’s minds now amid the pandemic, he draws parallels for Bill between our reaction to this health crisis and how we might respond to climate change.
They also talk about another book, one by the journalist David Wallace-Wells called The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, which Robert says had a big impact on his thinking. David was a guest on Columbia Energy Exchange with Jason Bordoff in September 2019.
In his discussion with Bill, Robert explains his views on the meaning of “behavioral contagion,” its relationship to previous changes in public attitudes about smoking and other controversial issues, and its potential to inspire broad public support for measures to address climate change.
Among his other credentials, Robert is a former economics columnist for the New York Times. His earlier books include The Winner-Take-All-Society, The Economic Naturalist and Success and Luck.
Fifty years ago this week, 20 million Americans came together to march for the planet, demanding action to clean up America’s waterways and air and protect public health. Their efforts launched the first Earth Day and the modern environmental movement. This week on the Columbia Energy Exchange, we reflect back on the U.S. environmental movement in 1970, examine the movement’s successes in reducing pollution, and find lessons for addressing the existential environmental issue of our time -- climate change.
To celebrate this historic milestone, we have a special double episode of Columbia Energy Exchange featuring conversations with two champions of the environmental movement -- one Republican, one Democrat. On Monday, host Jason Bordoff spoke with former Environmental Protection Agency administrator for President George H.W. Bush, Bill Reilly. And today, he speaks with his former Obama Administration colleague, Gina McCarthy.
Gina served as the 13th administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in President Obama’s second term, after serving as assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in the first term. Earlier this year, she became president and chief executive officer of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of America’s most important environmental organizations, founded the same year as the first Earth Day -- 1970. Earlier in her career, she held senior environmental policy roles in the state governments in Massachusetts and Connecticut, serving as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, deputy secretary of the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development, and undersecretary of policy for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. She also spent time after the Obama Administration at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, serving as a professor of the practice of public health in the Department of Environmental Health, and is currently chair of the board of advisors at the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE).
They discuss the current state of the environmental movement, progress made to cut pollution and expand clean energy in the U.S., and the challenges that remain to address the threat of climate change. They also discuss the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, and how the spread of the virus has highlighted the importance of science and preparedness, and the inequitable burdens of environmental pollution on public health.