Wildfire season is upon us. With nearly 80% of the Western US in extreme drought, fires have already scorched more than five and a half million acres this year – double the number of acres compared to this time last year.
Those fires pose an increasing risk to electric utilities. And no utility feels the urgency of that risk more than PG&E.
In 2018, PG&E equipment sparked the most devastating wildfire in California history – and it forced one of America’s largest utilities into bankruptcy protection.
The story isn’t likely to be an anomaly. As journalist Katherine Blunt writes in her new book, California Burning, the story is “a harbinger of challenges to come” as climate change threatens the grid built for a different era.
Katherine joins Bill Loveless on the show this week. She’s a Wall Street Journal reporter who covers the power industry. Her team’s reporting on PG&E was honored with multiple awards for business investigative journalism.
Bill spoke with her about the PG&E saga – and what it tells us about the risks facing utilities and the power grid in a rapidly-warming world.
Even as prices decline, the tight oil market is once again raising economic and political worries in Washington.
In July, President Biden traveled to the Middle East to meet with several Arab leaders – including Saudi Arabia’s King and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Expanding oil supply was high on the list of the administration’s diplomatic objectives.
Saudi Arabia says it has limited ability to add extra oil to the market, and it’s not clear whether OPEC+ countries agree on the path forward for oil output. All of this comes at a time of enormous uncertainty in the global outlook for oil, due to fears of a recession and concerns over Russian supply.
Now all eyes are on OPEC+ in early August. Will Biden’s overtures have any consequential impact on production?
This week, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Dr. Karen Young and Bob McNally to discuss what’s next for oil markets.
Dr. Young is the newest Senior Research Scholar at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. She was a Senior Fellow and Founding Director of the Program on Economics and Energy at the Middle East Institute.
Bob McNally is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy. He’s the author of Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices, published by Columbia University Press. In his full-time capacity he is the founder and President of Rapidan Energy Group, an independent energy consulting and market advisory firm based in the Washington DC area.
In the wake of Biden’s controversial trip to the Middle East, Jason spoke with Karen and Bob about what it tells us about the state of the global oil market in the months ahead.
Relentless extreme heat is gripping regions around the world. Spring and summer brought numerous crippling heat waves to Europe – smashing temperature records, killing more than a thousand people, and buckling infrastructure.
India and Pakistan experienced one of the hottest springs ever, with heat waves in March and April hurting crop yields, and putting more than a billion people at risk.
And here in the US, heat waves are scorching large swaths of the country, exacerbating a western megadrought.
Every year, hot, humid conditions that can kill people are getting more likely. And scientists are getting better at attributing specific heat waves to human-caused climate change.
This week, host Bill Loveless talks with Dr. Radley Horton, a Research Professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Radley’s research focuses on climate extremes, tail risks, climate impacts, and adaptation. He was a lead author for the Third National Climate Assessment.
Bill spoke with Radley about this year’s brutal conditions that have hit Europe, North America, and Asia over the last few months. They discussed his research into heat-related mortality, where regions are becoming most vulnerable to extreme weather, and what it all means for our ability to adapt.
Europe’s gas crisis has entered a scary new phase. Last week, the biggest pipeline carrying Russian gas into Germany was closed for maintenance. And many in Europe fear the Russians will keep Nord Stream 1 closed indefinitely – putting further pressure on gas supply in the colder months.
Europeans are burning more coal, scrambling for new sources of gas, and committing to lots of renewable energy in a frantic attempt to slash reliance on Russian fossil fuels. But there are real questions about how quickly those solutions will shift the balance of power.
Meanwhile, gas prices are soaring in markets around the world – leading to fears about recession and long-lasting economic impacts. What are the possible scenarios that could play out?
This week, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Anne-Sophie Corbeau and Dr. Tatiana Mitrova to explain the state of gas markets.
Anne-Sophie Corbeau is a Global Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs; Dr. Tatiana Mitrova is a Research Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy.
Together, they discuss how deeply the gas shocks will impact Europe, Russia, and the rest of the world.
In June, Colombia elected a new president: Gustavo Petro.
Petro is pushing major reforms in this oil-exporting country. He promised to cut Colombia’s reliance on selling oil and extracting raw materials, while also ramping up climate targets. Will Colombia become the first oil exporter to ban new production?
Petro’s win is part of a broader progressive shift in Latin America around climate and energy. How will recent political developments in Colombia and other Latin American countries affect the future of oil and mining on the continent, and what do these shifts mean for the clean energy transition?
This week, host Bill Loveless sits down with Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas, a visiting senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy.
As Colombia’s finance minister between 2012 and 2018, Dr. Cárdenas served during an oil shock that led to a 40% reduction in Colombia’s exports.
Mauricio and Bill discussed whether the incoming Colombian president can deliver on his campaign promises. They also explore the state of energy and climate policy across Latin America.
In a 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA, Supreme Court justices determined that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its authority in regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Since the Thursday decision, several environmental groups have called the monumental ruling devastating to the Biden administration’s efforts to facilitate a clean energy transition.
For a breakdown of the decision and its implications for climate regulations moving forward, host Bill Loveless spoke with legal experts Michael Gerrard and Jeff Holmstead.
Michael is founder and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. He has pioneered innovative legal strategies and teaches courses on environmental law, climate change law and energy regulation. Before his time at Columbia, Michael was the head of the New York law office of Arnold & Porter.
Jeff heads the Environmental Strategies Group at the law firm Bracewell. He previously served as assistant administrator for air and radiation at the EPA under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. During his tenure, he was one of the architects behind the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the Clean Air Diesel Rule and the Mercury Rule for power plants.
The pair discussed precisely how the rule curbs the EPA’s power, where it stops short, and the kind of legal precedence it sets for future cases.
This week, Columbia Energy Exchange brings you an episode of another podcast called Catalyst.
It’s a weekly show hosted by climate tech veteran Shayle Kann about the future of decarbonization. Each week, different experts, researchers, and executives come on to unpack the latest hurdles to decarbonization and advancing new climate tech solutions.
This episode is all about weighing the risks and rewards of solar geoengineering.
In it, Shayle speaks with a climate modeler named Dan Visioni who conducts research on solar geoengineering at Cornell University’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
They explore key questions, including:
Episodes of Catalyst drop every Thursday. The show is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
President Biden is heading to Saudi Arabia next month amidst a global energy crisis. The trip is nothing new. For decades when faced with an oil crisis, presidents from both political parties have turned to Saudi Arabia.
That’s because it’s one of the key players in the global oil market, producing about 10% of the world’s oil.
For a deep dive into the unique role that Saudi Arabia plays in global oil markets, host Jason Bordoff spoke with Dr. Ibrahim AlMuhanna. He’s the vice chairman of the Saudi Association for Energy Economics and a longtime advisor to the Ministry of Energy for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Between 1989 and 2017, he worked closely with four successive energy ministers, playing a central role in developing Saudi energy policy and communicating it to the outside world. His new book “Oil Leaders: An Insider’s Account of Four Decades of Saudi Arabia and OPEC's Global Energy Policy” is the latest in the Center on Global Energy Policy book series published through Columbia University Press.
The pair discussed Dr. AlMuhanna’s career overseeing consequential energy decisions and the role of Saudi Arabia in global energy markets now and moving forward.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continues to influence global energy systems, despite challenges to its unity and market share. Just this year, global leaders called upon OPEC to increase output to bring down oil prices.
But the organization comes under tremendous scrutiny for many of the decisions it makes, with some arguing that it has not done enough to address oil price spikes and others questioning its role generally.
For a look at how OPEC is navigating the current oil crisis and the broader clean energy transition, host Jason Bordoff spoke with His Excellency Mohammad Barkindo.
Barkindo has served as secretary general of OPEC for the last six years, with his term set to end in July. His tenure at OPEC has coincided with major upheavals in the global oil market, including the supply glut of the mid-2010s, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. He previously represented Nigeria at OPEC and held various senior roles at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The pair discussed OPEC’s role amid political turmoil, rapidly fluctuating energy markets, changes within the oil industry, along with Barkindo’s reflections on his time at OPEC’s helm.
Earlier this year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed new regulations that would require publicly-traded companies to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions and disclose certain climate risks.
The mandated rules around disclosure would be unprecedented in the United States and come at a time when investors are increasingly concerned about companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments. But the controversial measure is stirring up complaints – from those who say it goes too far, and others who say it doesn’t go far enough.
For deeper insight into the SEC’s proposed rules, host Bill Loveless spoke with Dr. Shivaram Rajgopal, the Kester and Byrnes Professor of Accounting and Auditing at Columbia Business School.
Shivaram was previously a faculty member at Duke University, Emory University and the University of Washington, and his work is frequently cited in outlets like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Forbes.
Together, they discuss some of the key provisions in the proposal and the broader implications it could have for the future of corporate climate accountability.
Oil refiners are currently seeing a big boom in business – but how long will it last?
The process of turning crude into usable products has been plagued for years by low profitability and overcapacity, and the pandemic took a toll on many refineries which in some cases shut their doors permanently.
And now climate action, the potential for an economic slump and global fuel shortages are raising new questions about whether refiners should continue to invest or cash out.
For answers to these big questions surrounding oil refining, host Bill Loveless spoke with Robin Mills, chief executive at Qamar Energy in Dubai. The company provides regionally-based insight and consulting across the oil and gas, renewable, hydrogen and carbon management sectors in the Middle East.
Prior to this, Robin led major consulting assignments for the European Union in Iraq and for a variety of international oil companies. Robin previously worked for Shell, developing new business in the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern countries and for Dubai Holding and the Emirates National Oil Company.
He is the author of two books: “The Myth of the Oil Crisis” and “Capturing Carbon.”
The pair discuss the current landscape for oil refining, the impact of the pandemic, and the role policymakers and government leaders can play in alleviating market disruptions.
Today, the DOE is facing converging crises: climate change, global supply chains still impacted by the pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So, what can the federal government do to sustainably shore up the country's energy sector?
To answer that question, host Jason Bordoff speaks with David Turk, deputy secretary of energy at the DOE and former deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency.
Jason and David discuss the war in Ukraine, the future of clean energy technology, and what energy security looks like in a decarbonizing world.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Europe to reconsider its energy mix. Migrating away from Russian supply chains has become a priority, and Europe is looking at nuclear as one possible alternative. But opinions about nuclear energy vary throughout the European Union, where a quarter of all electricity comes from often aging reactors in a dozen countries.
For insight into how the pressures of energy security and climate change could affect the future of nuclear energy on the continent, host Bill Loveless spoke with Mark Hibbs, a nonresident senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Based in Germany, Mark focuses on international nuclear trade and nonproliferation as well as policy concerning the generation of nuclear power. Before joining Carnegie in 2010, he spent more than 20 years as an accomplished editor and senior correspondent with Nucleonics Week and other nuclear energy publications at S&P Global Platts.
Bill and Mark spoke about the outlook for nuclear energy in Europe as the war persists, the potential of new reactors as an alternative to Russian oil and natural gas, and the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors amid the war.
Despite some setbacks, Europe is considering a ban on Russian oil, a major step toward energy independence from Russia. Meanwhile, Russia’s demand that buyers pay for its natural gas in rubles has put European consumers in a tough spot and has led Russia to cut off gas exports to Bulgaria and Poland.
All of this puts Europe in the middle of an energy crisis – with no clear end in sight.
For a look at whether Europe can stand against Russia without compromising its own energy supply and continue to make progress on its clean energy goals, host Jason Bordoff speaks with Kadri Simson. She’s the European Commissioner for Energy and works to ensure Europe has affordable, sustainable, and secure sources of energy.
Before joining the European Commission in 2019, she was Estonia’s Minister for Economic Affairs and has held various other positions in the Estonian government.
During her recent visit to Columbia University, Commissioner Simson and Jason discussed various aspects of the European energy market including Europe’s natural gas demand, the importance of Russia’s diesel and refined products, and the continent’s nuclear future.
For a look at how commodities should be regulated and how policymakers think about energy supplies in a fractious geopolitical environment, host Jason Bordoff spoke with Javier Blas from Bloomberg News. He’s a leading energy columnist and commodities expert with a renowned career at top media outlets like the BBC and the Financial Times.
He’s also the author of a new book: “The World for Sale: Money, Power, and the Traders Who Barter the Earth's Resources,” co-authored with senior Bloomberg News reporter Jack Farchy.
The pair have been on the show previously to discuss the book in detail, which you can listen to here. They also participated in a recent event with Maria Jelscu Dreyfus, CEO and Founder of Ardinall Investment Management which you can watch here.
In this discussion, Javier focuses on the implications of the current war for commodities markets and the global clean energy transition.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent oil and natural gas markets for a loop.
But less attention has been paid to the implications of the war for global energy and food security, particularly for the world’s least developed countries (LDCs).
For a deep dive into whether Western nations can still fulfill the climate finance promises made to LDCs in the midst of an unfolding global conflict and energy crisis in Europe, host Bill Loveless turned to Dr. Harry Verhoeven.
He’s a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy who has collaborated extensively with key policy actors including the World Bank, the European Union, the United Nations and governments around the world. He is also the founder and Convenor of the Oxford University China-Africa Network.
In this conversation, Dr. Verhoeven outlines how the Russia-Ukraine conflict is destabilizing prices for certain food commodities like wheat and what the Russia-Ukraine war means for energy transitions of countries like Angola, Sudan and Mozambique.
Recently, Dr. Verhoeven authored a paper on the topic for CGEP called “International Energy Markets and Food Insecurity in the Least Developed Countries: The Russia-Ukraine Crisis and Beyond.” Soon, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will release another report by Harry on the same topic.
Russia’s war on Ukraine is largely to blame for high energy prices in Europe as the continent competes with Asia for already tight supplies of non-Russian gas. And the scramble for alternatives to Russian gas has reached the US, where prices have doubled since the beginning of the year.
For a look at what the future holds for natural gas markets, host Jason Bordoff spoke with Ira Joseph. He’s the head of global generating fuels and electric power pricing at S&P Global Platts.
Ira has decades of experience researching the gas sector and previously worked at the PIRA Energy Group, where he started the firm’s European gas and power and Global LNG Service in 1999.
The pair discussed the factors contributing to the abnormally high gas prices and the implications for energy security, the clean energy transition and global climate commitments.
Russia’s oil and natural gas commodities get a lot of attention, but the country’s critical metals and minerals supplies – which include steel, titanium, nickel, cobalt and lithium – are also cause for concern.
Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine could disrupt the global supply of these materials, which can be found in every corner of our lives. Notably, these minerals are essential components of clean energy technologies like solar panels, wind turbines and batteries for electric vehicles.
For a look at how global supply chains of critical minerals will be crucial to the energy transition – and how these supply chains can be managed effectively – host Bill Loveless spoke with Abigail Wulf. She’s the Vice President and Director of Critical Minerals Strategy at SAFE, a nonpartisan organization that promotes U.S. energy security policies.
Previously, she was a Senior Science Communicator at NASA where she worked to promote NASA's Earth Science research.
In this conversation, they discuss the implications of the war for critical mineral supply chains, China’s control over mineral processing facilities and steps the US government could take to develop sustainable mining projects.
Wildfires, extreme heat and particulate matter from fossil fuel power plants are increasingly affecting the well-being of people in the U.S. and other countries.
In this episode, host Bill Loveless visits with Dr. Renee Salas about the adverse impacts of climate change on public health. As a leading public health researcher and emergency medical doctor, Dr. Salas has published extensively and testified in Congress on the impact of climate change on healthcare and the medical system.
She served as the lead author of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change U.S. Brief since 2018.
Dr. Salas is a Yerby Fellow at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also a practicing emergency medical physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School.
They bring us a compelling conversation about the mindset shift necessary to address the climate health crisis head on.
Earlier this month, a delegation of senior U.S. officials made an unexpected visit to South America to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The visit caused a flurry of speculation. Will the United States consider easing oil sanctions on Venezuela to replace Russian crude? Such a move could have huge ramifications for Venezuela’s oil exports but involves navigating a complicated relationship with the Maduro regime.
For a look into how this could work, host Bill Loveless spoke with Dr. Luisa Palacios, a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy and former Chairwoman of Citgo Petroleum Corporation.
Luisa was on the show a few months ago for a conversation about the energy transition in Latin America. She returns to discuss a paper she recently co-authored: “Venezuela Oil Sanctions: Not An Easy Fix.”
Together, they discuss the potential ripple effects of easing sanctions on Venezuela as oil prices spike around the globe.
Heavy Russian airstrikes continue in Ukraine with no end in sight.
As the conflict escalates, rising oil prices are causing alarm about the future of global energy markets. So far, sanctions issued by the European Union have spared Russia’s energy exports, but some European Commission officials have started to call for an oil embargo.
To make sense of the recent oil price volatility, host Jason Bordoff called on energy expert Ed Morse. Morse has been focused on energy policy and commodities since the 1970s and is currently the managing director and global head of commodity research at Citigroup.
He was a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for energy policy in both the Carter and Reagan administrations.
Together, they discuss what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means moving forward for global oil supplies and prices at the pump.
An increased demand for energy following COVID-19 lockdowns created a severe energy supply crunch in Europe this winter. And now, decisions from corporate executives and government leaders to reduce or outright ban the purchase of Russian oil has forced energy prices even higher. For a look at how energy markets can be leveraged to end Russia’s war in Ukraine and accelerate the transition to clean energy– all while reducing the risks of nuclear proliferation– host Jason Bordoff spoke with former US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
A key architect of the Paris Agreement and Iran nuclear deal, Moniz is currently the CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Before joining the Obama administration as Secretary of Energy, Dr. Moniz served as Under Secretary of Energy and as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the Department of Energy. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Moniz was a Physics and Engineering Systems Systems Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he founded the MIT Energy Initiative.
In this conversation, Dr. Moniz sheds light on the energy security threats created by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, where things stand on the Iran deal and the future of energy innovation amid turbulent times for the markets.
For a deeper look at how the Russia-Ukraine conflict is impacting energy markets globally, host Jason Bordoff speaks with two foreign policy experts on energy: Angela Stent and Meghan O’Sullivan.
Stent is senior adviser to the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and professor emerita of government and foreign service at Georgetown University. She’s published extensively on Russia-related foreign policy matters including “Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest.”
O’Sullivan is the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and the director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University. She served as a national security advisor to President George W. Bush, and has written various books and articles on international affairs.
Together, they discuss the complex energy security and resource management challenges during this time.
Delegations from Kyiv and Moscow met in Belarus yesterday for the first round of talks which resulted in no resolution. At the same time Russian rockets battered Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, killing and wounding dozens, and leaving much uncertainty on what’s to come next.
Sanctions have been the primary tool by the West to deter Russian aggression and de-escalate the tenuous situation. In this episode host Jason Bordoff speaks with international sanctions experts Richard Nephew and Eddie Fishman about the global energy implications of these diplomacy challenges.
Nephew recently rejoined the Center On Global Energy Policy as a senior research scholar. He’s the author of “The Art Of Sanctions,” and was most recently the US Deputy Special Envoy for Iran under the Biden administration where he played a key role in negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal.
Fishman is an adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. From 2015 to 2017, he worked at the US State Department and advised Secretary of State John Kerry on Europe and Eurasia, leading policy work around economic sanctions.
Their discussion focuses on Russia’s global oil and gas exports, the near and long-term outcomes of economic sanctions on the Russian economy and the prospects for a revived Iran nuclear deal.
Silicon Valley is giving greater attention to potential business opportunities in clean energy and climate. It’s also seeing enormous potential for growth when it comes to battery storage, geothermal, electric vehicles, solar, and more.
But there are still questions about how the private sector can effectively fund these new technologies and ventures.
For a look into how to scale climate solutions with the speed that’s needed, host Jason Bordoff sits down with John Doerr, chairman of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. John is known for his early investments in clean technology and outside of the investment world, he’s a social entrepreneur with a track record for tackling climate.
And now, he has laid out his plan in a new book: “Speed & Scale: An Action Plan For Solving Our Climate Crisis Now.”
In this conversation, John outlines his vision for transitioning the economy to clean energy and reflects on his legacy of green investments.