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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: Page 4
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. 

Oct 20, 2020

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. 

Oct 13, 2020

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.

Oct 6, 2020

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.

Sep 28, 2020

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.

Sep 21, 2020

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.

Sep 14, 2020

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.

Aug 31, 2020

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.

Aug 24, 2020

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. 

Aug 17, 2020

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.

Aug 10, 2020

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. 

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