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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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Jan 31, 2023

The U.S has used sanctions to influence geopolitics for decades, including measures targeting the oil and gas trade. Most recently, the U.S. and other G7 nations put a price cap on Russian oil as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine. 

In the past, sanctions focused on trade embargos—like the grain embargo against the Soviet Union in 1980 and much broader restrictions against Cuba in 1960. Today, they focus on financial impacts. It’s an effective strategy for a country with significant global financial clout like the U.S., but unilateral sanctions can fuel tensions with allies and result in unintended consequences.

So how does the U.S. use financial pressure to address conflicts with other nations? What are the geopolitical and economic impacts of current sanctions? And how could they affect America’s standing in the global order?

Today on the show, Bill talks with Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director of the Economist Intelligence Unit and former economic advisor for the diplomatic corps of the French Treasury.

 Agathe is the author of Backfire: How Sanctions Reshape the World Against U.S. Interests. The book explores how sanctions affect multinational companies, governments, and millions of people around the world. It’s part of the Center on Global Energy Policy’s book series published by the Columbia University Press.

 Bill speaks with Agathe about what’s in the U.S sanctions arsenal and why they’ve become so popular in the past two decades. They also discuss the use of sanctions as a foreign policy tool in the past, present, and future. 

Jan 24, 2023

 Innovation in clean energy is accelerating. Batteries are getting denser and cheaper; wind turbines are getting bigger and better, and new solar projects often generate the cheapest electricity in the world. 

Meanwhile, cutting-edge technologies like hydrogen electrolysis and direct-air carbon capture keep improving.

Most of the world’s major economies – the US, EU, India, Japan, and China – are racing to capture the economic benefits of this tech innovation through deployment incentives and support of domestic manufacturing. 

But bottlenecks for critical minerals, supply chain constraints from Covid, and fierce competition among countries are all potential hurdles for this new industrial age.

Where is clean energy innovation advancing the fastest? And how will competition over manufacturing shake out in the decade ahead?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Timur Gül.   

Timur is head of the Energy Technology Policy Division at the International Energy Agency and leads the Energy Technology Perspectives report. The flagship series serves as the world’s first global guidebook for the clean technology industries of the future. The 2023 version was just released earlier this month.

Timur gives us an insider’s look into the report. He and Bill discuss how the key findings fit into the current geopolitical atmosphere of energy markets. They also talk about the major opportunities both globally and domestically for technology innovation. 

Jan 17, 2023

After years of political pressure, Democrats in Congress narrowly passed an historic climate bill at the end of 2022. Now, it’s time to implement it. 

The Departments of Energy, Interior, Treasury, IRS, EPA, and state governments are set to deploy hundreds of billions of dollars for clean energy technologies. That means hiring lots of people into government, structuring new programs, and distributing dollars efficiently.

But the politics aren't over. With a Republican-controlled House, other pressures are emerging. The House Energy Committee has plans to investigate President Biden’s energy and climate actions. The DOE’s Loan Programs Office is under attack for its spending, which was recently increased by the Inflation Reduction Act. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will only have four commissioners instead of five because of objections over re-nominating Chairman Richard Glick.

How will these conflicts play out? And how will the actual work of implementing the Inflation Reduction Act get done?   

This week Jennifer Dlouhy and Stephen Mufson join host Bill Loveless to discuss what to expect out of Washington D.C. this year.

Jennifer has been an energy and environment reporter for Bloomberg in Washington, D.C. since 2015. She has more than fifteen years of experience covering energy policy. 

Stephen covers the business of climate change for the Washington Post. In his 30 years at the Post, he’s covered economic policy, China, diplomacy, energy and the White House.

With seemingly low possibilities to pass major climate and energy legislation, Bill, Jennifer, and Stephen discuss what the Biden administration and Republicans could focus on this year. They also talk about the role federal agencies will play.

Jan 10, 2023

Clean electrons are vital to the net-zero economy. What about molecules?

There is a global race to expand hydrogen production for industry and heavy transportation – using wind, solar and biomass as a feedstock. 

North American countries are taking hydrogen innovation seriously, passing policy to spur innovation. The United States’ Inflation Reduction Act and Canada’s Fall Economic Statement both offer production tax credits for clean hydrogen. 

China is the global leader in production. But the country primarily uses coal as a feedstock. To make it clean, they’ll need to invest heavily in renewables and carbon capture technology.

With so much attention now on the industry, will it finally live up to the hype? How have recent developments in geopolitics and policy changed the outlook for the hydrogen industry? And what sectors will it help decarbonize? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Daryl Wilson, the executive director of the Hydrogen Council

Before joining the Hydrogen Council in 2020, Daryl served as CEO of Hydrogenics, a fuel cell and electrolysis technologies provider. During his time there, he oversaw the world’s largest new electrolysis project and the world’s first hydrogen powered public train service.

In 2017 the Hydrogen Council released its first report – an outlook through 2050. Bill talks to Daryl about whether that outlook has changed with the recent instability of global energy markets and the war in Ukraine. They also discuss how new policy developments could spur innovation.

Jan 3, 2023

Developing countries face the dual challenge of meeting rapidly growing energy demand while also scaling clean energy to avoid dramatic increases in carbon emissions. But financing all of those clean energy projects can be tough.

Emerging and developing economies need clean energy investments. Researchers estimate that they will need anywhere between $1-2 trillion per year for the next 30 years to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Most of that capital will need to come from the private sector. Multilateral development banks are working to fill the gap and catalyze private finance. But they still have to work through unique financial, policy, and technical challenges in emerging and developing economies.

So what are these barriers? And how do we overcome them to mobilize more capital for clean energy projects across the developing world?

This week, we’re re-running host Jason Bordoff’s interview with Mafalda Duarte. Mafalda is the CEO of Climate Investment Funds, one of the most ambitious efforts to finance clean energy projects in developing and middle-income countries. 

In September, Jason and Mafalda discussed opportunities for financing the clean energy transition in emerging economies—including an ambitious new effort to phase out coal in parts of Africa and Asia.

Dec 27, 2022

So much about the ocean is still unknown to science, even though the ocean covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface. 

Oceans act as a buffer against unimaginable warming, because scientists say that about 90 percent of the warming that has happened on Earth over the past 50 years has been absorbed by the oceans. But elevated ocean temperatures have also meant rising seas, coral bleaching events, and more intense hurricanes — just to name a few impacts.

That said, ocean science has increasingly contributed significantly to addressing climate change and informing public policy. 

And there’s that much more that can be done. 

This week, we have host Bill Loveless' conversation with Peter De Menocal from February this year. Peter is a marine geologist and paleo-climatologist and the President & Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Bill and Peter discussed how oceans are changing, the capacity of oceans to take up carbon and the need for policy-relevant research on the seas. They also talked about what led Peter to a career studying and exploring oceans.

Dec 20, 2022

2022 was one of the most tumultuous years for global energy markets in decades.War. Fossil fuel shortages. Extreme price spikes. Supply chain disruptions in clean energy.

It also brought transformative changes. An historic U.S. climate bill, a first-of-its-kind loss and damage agreement at COP27, and record electric car sales. We tackled all these stories on the show this year. Now we’re wondering: how will they play out next year?

Will supply chains return to normal after their COVID chaos? How volatile will fossil fuel prices remain? And what kind of technological breakthroughs can we expect in clean energy? 

This week, a 2022 wrap-up. Host Bill Loveless is joined by a panel of experts from the Center on Global Energy Policy – Jason Bordoff, Melissa Lott, and Mauricio Cardenas. 

Jason is the founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy and co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School. Before joining Columbia, he served as special assistant to President Barack Obama, and as senior director for energy and climate change on the staff of the National Security Council. And, of course, he is the co-host of this show.

Melissa is the director of research at the Center on Global Energy Policy. She co-leads the Power Sector and Renewable Research Initiative and serves as the acting director of the Carbontech Development Initiative. Melissa is the host of “The Big Switch,”  another podcast by the Center on Global Energy Policy.

Mauricio is a professor of professional practice in global leadership at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and director of the school’s Master of Public Administration in Global Leadership. He has previously served Colombia’s energy minister and finance minister.

Together, they discuss the year’s biggest moments at the intersection of energy, policy, and geopolitics. They also talk about Europe’s energy challenges, global climate and energy policies – including the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act – and the trajectory for fossil fuels and renewables in the years ahead.

Dec 13, 2022

Sixty dollars. That’s the per-barrel price cap G7 countries and Australia imposed on Russian crude oil last week. The measure will allow Western service providers to ship and insure Russian oil, as long as it’s sold at a price below the cap. The purpose is to reduce Russia’s petro-revenue, which funds its war on Ukraine, while still keeping its oil flowing to the global market.

This measure breaks new ground as a tool of economic statecraft. Analysts around the world are anxiously watching to see how the oil market – and the Russians – might respond.

Will the price cap achieve its objective? And what does this mean for the future of energy policy?

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Eddie Fishman and Tatiana Mitrova. 

Eddie is a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University and an adjunct professor of international and public affairs. He previously led the U.S. State Department’s design and implementation of sanctions on Russia. You can find two explainers he wrote about the price cap on Russian oil on CGEP’s website. 

Tatiana is senior research fellow at CGEP and one of the world’s foremost experts on the Russian energy sector. She has served as executive director of the Energy Centre of the Moscow School of Management and as head of research in the Oil and Gas Department in the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

Eddie, Tatiana, and Jason talk about what the price cap could look like in practice, and how Russia might respond. They also discuss the impact of sanctions already in place.

Dec 6, 2022

The clean energy transition is a multi-generational challenge. It will shake up geopolitics, shift the economy, and change our daily interactions with energy. We have no precedent for the scale and speed required to decarbonize the global economy. 

Yet there are signs that new developments in technology, policy, and public opinion are turning the tide for a global response to the climate crisis. Achieving a net-zero future, however, will require careful implementation, creative solutions, and a whole-systems approach that prioritizes prosperity and justice. 

What are the economic tools we have to deliver such a transition? And what are the emerging solutions that might make this future possible?

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Cameron Hepburn. 

Cameron is a professor of environmental economics at the University of Oxford and director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He also serves as the director of the Economics of Sustainability Programme based at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School. Cameron has more than 30 peer-reviewed publications spanning economics, public policy, law, engineering, philosophy, and biology. 

Jason and Cameron talk  about where we are in the energy transition – and where we need to go. They discuss the economics of the climate crisis, how technology developments are accelerating the energy transition, and how to scale their impact.

Nov 29, 2022

War. Inflation. Supply shortfalls. The global energy system looks much different than a year ago, thanks to a confluence of disruptive forces for oil and natural gas. Ever-cheaper renewables, electric cars, and stronger climate policies are putting peak fossil fuel consumption in sight. 

How will these competing factors play out in the coming decade and beyond? 

This fall, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published the latest version of its flagship report, the World Energy Outlook (WEO). It examines the state of the global energy system and maps out a variety of decarbonization scenarios for the future. 

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Laura Cozzi. Laura is the chief energy modeler at the IEA . She also serves as the head of the demand outlook division, and is responsible for producing the annual World Energy Outlook. Laura has been with the IEA for more than 20 years and has co-authored multiple editions of the WEO. 

Jason talks with Laura about this year’s analysis – and the various scenarios outlined in the report. They discuss the prospect for a peak in fossil fuel consumption, the impact of increased investments in clean energy, and the long-term impacts of today’s supply crisis.

Nov 22, 2022

The November midterm elections proved better than expected for Democrats, in spite of many predictions of a Republican wave sweeping across the United States.

Regardless of what happens in the Georgia run-off in December, Democrats will hold a majority in the Senate. 

Republicans, however, have taken a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, where they can contest President Biden’s climate and energy agenda. Most notably, they could try to minimize the impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act and other new laws through oversight and investigations into its funding for various agencies. 

How will climate and energy policy shake out over the last two years of President Biden’s term? Will the administration look to regulatory agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to move the needle on climate action with a split Congress? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Rich Powell and Aliya Haq. 

Rich is the CEO of Clear Path and Clear Path Action. Both are DC-based organizations advancing policies that accelerate innovations to reduce emissions in the energy and industrial sectors. He is also the co-chair of the Conservative Climate Foundation.

Aliya is the vice president of U.S. policy and advocacy at Breakthrough Energy. Her team pushes for ambitious climate and clean energy policy to help the U.S. achieve its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Previously, she was the federal climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Bill spoke with Rich and Aliya about the election results and how they will impact policy over the next two years. They discussed the possibility of bipartisan action and how a Republican House could influence energy and environmental agencies.

Nov 15, 2022

The spotlight is on Africa at COP27, the UN climate change conference taking place in Egypt.

This year, climate-induced disasters have ravaged the continent. Cyclones and flooding in the south, and a four-year drought in the east have crippled food supplies, increased human suffering, and hurt economic growth. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Africans still live in energy poverty. With pressure from developed nations to cut emissions at global climate talks, African leaders are hoping to secure billions of dollars to invest in the transition away from fossil fuels and build new energy infrastructure. 

But securing financing to build renewable energy projects isn't enough. For the first time in its history, the COP agenda includes “loss and damage” funds. These are reparations that industrialized countries would pay to developing countries which have suffered the most from climate change. 

What will it take to bring about meaningful energy transitions in Africa? And do the energy developments underway give us some insight on what’s possible?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Dr. Destenie Nock. Destenie is an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University where she teaches civil and environmental engineering as well as engineering and public policy. She is also newly appointed to Columbia’s Visiting Faculty Program.

Destenie recently co-authored a report about energy poverty in Africa in the journal Nature titled “Africa needs context-relevant evidence to shape its clean energy future.”

Bill and Destenie spoke about her research, and the nuanced energy and climate needs of African nations. They discuss ‘loss and damage’ and the previously unfulfilled promises from wealthy countries to fund climate mitigation projects.

Nov 8, 2022

In 2021, 6.9 million electric vehicles were sold globally. And with 18 of the 20 largest auto manufacturers committed to embracing electrification, sales are expected to reach 55-72 million by 2025

To produce these vehicles, manufacturers need critical minerals like cobalt, lithium, and nickel for their batteries. China is a major player in battery manufacturing because of its capacity for processing these minerals. 

The European Union is close to striking a deal to ban new combustion-engine cars starting in 2035. Earlier this summer, the California Air Resources Board passed a new mandate for EVs, effectively phasing out the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035.

With the United States and Europe both aiming to bolster their domestic supply chains, the contest for critical minerals is also heating up. What will it take to produce these minerals in sufficient quantities? And how can it be done in ways that protect the environment and the mining communities?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Henry Sanderson, the executive editor at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. From 2014 to 2021, he served as the commodities correspondent for the Financial Times. He also spent seven years in China reporting for Bloomberg and the Associated Press.

In July, Henry published a new book, “Volt Rush: The Winners and Losers in the Race to Go Green”. Volt Rush is about the geopolitics and competition over the commodities needed to build a greener world. 

Bill talks with Henry about the competitive global market of EV battery components and the often overlooked working and environmental conditions in developing countries. They also discuss efforts by the United States and other countries to build domestic supply chains.

Nov 1, 2022

Europe is getting some much-needed relief in the midst of its energy crisis. Although energy prices are still high, a warm October and a surge in liquified gas imports brought spot prices down from record levels and gas storage to near full capacity. A worst-case supply crisis has been averted — for now.

But tensions are still high. Fears over Russian sabotage of North Sea pipelines are causing concerns about cuts to remaining gas supplies. Impending winter weather and a coming embargo on Russian oil are adding uncertainty to an already volatile market. European households and businesses will still see prices for natural gas and electricity well above average. 

Has Europe seen the worst of its energy crisis? What are the options for EU leaders to manage the energy crisis during the frigid winter months? How will further measures to pressure Russia economically affect the European economy?

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Anne-Sophie Corbeau and Tatiana Mitrova about the winter outlook and the options for managing the energy supply. This conversation was recorded on October 14, 2022. 

Anne-Sophie is a global research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Tatiana is a research fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy.

Oct 25, 2022

The group of 23 oil-producing countries known as OPEC+ announced a cut in production at its recent meeting in Vienna. The move sparked a sharp backlash from leaders in Washington amid concerns about high energy prices and their impact on the global economy.

OPEC+ countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, defended the decision by pointing to the weak economic outlook depressing oil demand. Others concluded geopolitics may have been at play given the relationship between OPEC+ countries and Russia.   

In Washington, calls for retaliation were immediate. Proposals included a cessation of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, legislation to strip OPEC+ of its immunity from antitrust lawsuits, or new releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

Was the market in need of a production cut? And how much did geopolitics play a role in OPEC+’s decision?

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Amrita Sen

Amrita is the co-founder and chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects. She leads their analysis and forecasting of crude and products markets. Amrita was formerly the chief oil analyst at Barclays Capital. She holds a masters in economics from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in economics from SOAS University of London. 

Amrita’s deep understanding of the complexity of the global energy sector, along with a wealth of industry contacts and experience, gives her a unique perspective on market outlook. Earlier this month, she warned clients that U.S. shale output could peak in 2024. 

Together, Jason and Amrita discuss the rationale behind the OPEC+ cuts and the influence of geopolitics. They also talk about the U.S. response and production outlook for the next few years.

Oct 18, 2022

In the months since Russia invaded Ukraine, world leaders have struggled to implement a global response that punishes Russia for its aggression, while simultaneously minimizing the war’s impact on energy prices. In the United States, the Department of the Treasury has been at the center of this effort. Officials there have been negotiating with international partners over a proposal to implement a price cap on Russian oil. Their goal? To reduce Russia’s energy revenue while keeping vitally needed oil on the market. 

A price cap would allow those transporting Russian oil to use western services if buyers pay below a set price. But some experts are skeptical. Can the United States really punish Russian aggression while protecting the economies of consumer countries? What are the chances of Russian retaliation? And how would a global price cap affect energy prices for American consumers in the months ahead?

This week, we’re airing a conversation between host Jason Bordoff and Wally Adeyemo at the recent Columbia Global Energy Summit.  

As deputy secretary of the Treasury, Wally has been at the center of the Biden Administration’s Covid recovery effort, its response to Russian aggression, and its stewardship of the American economy. 

Prior to taking over as deputy secretary, Wally served as deputy national security adviser for International Economics and deputy director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration. He was also the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Jason and Wally discuss the price cap proposal, the outlook for energy markets, and how the Department of the Treasury is using its economic policy levers to address the climate crisis.

Oct 12, 2022

We need more energy infrastructure. 

But energy permitting regulations — primarily established through the National Environmental Policy Act — are not matching the pace of the transition needed if we’re to meet our net-zero goals.

Sen. Joe Manchin has been trying to pass permitting reform for more than 20 months, and his most recent proposal catapulted the issue into the national spotlight. Manchin’s bill aims to reform environmental review and permitting processes. Most notably, it would reduce the time it takes to get an energy project approved. 

The bill faces opposition from both the right and the left. Some Democrats have criticized the bill as a sop to big oil. And some conservatives argue that it lacks clear and meaningful implementation requirements.

Since Manchin couldn’t muster enough support for the proposal, it was ultimately pulled. 

Without permitting reform, the U.S. will struggle to build new energy projects, putting climate targets and energy security at risk. What will it take to pass bi-partisian legislation? And how can regulatory review balance environmental protection and infrastructure development? 

This week host Bill Loveless interviews Katie McGinty and Jim Connaughton. 

Katie is the vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer for Johnson Controls. She was the first woman to serve as chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as deputy assistant to President Clinton. 

Jim Connaughton is the chairperson of Nautilus Data Technologies. He served as the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality for the George W. Bush administration as well as the director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy. He is a member of the advisory committee for Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Last year, Katie and Jim co-authored a report for the Aspen Institute titled “Building Cleaner, Faster.” It concluded that environmental review and permitting reform were necessary to decarbonize the economy. 

Bill talked with Katie and Jim about permitting reform, Sen. Manchin’s proposed bill, and why new legislation is so important for building new energy infrastructure.

Oct 4, 2022

Europe is in the throes of a severe energy crisis, with oil, gas, electricity, and coal prices skyrocketing this year. As the continent braces for winter, its leaders face difficult questions about whether or not there will be enough energy to heat homes and power the economy into 2023 and beyond. 

Meanwhile Europeans are contending with the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. As they try to pressure Russia economically, they’re attempting to minimize how much they squeeze their own energy sectors. 

This energy crisis is occurring against the backdrop of an unfolding climate crisis. It has taken a toll on Europe this summer, inflicting major heat waves and drought across much of the continent. European governments, which have accelerated their efforts to fight climate change through the European Green Deal, must now balance the need for reducing carbon emissions with the need to meet current fossil fuel demand. 

How can Europe’s leaders find a compromise? How can they meet the current energy demands of their constituents? And what does a long-term energy security plan look like for Europe?

This week we are airing host Jason Bordoff’s recent interview with Frans Timmermans from Columbia’s World Leaders Forum. They sat down for a conversation titled, “Staying the Course in a World of Turmoil.” 

Frans is the executive vice-president of the European Commission for the European Green Deal and the European commissioner for climate action. He has an extensive background in Dutch politics, serving as a member of the House of Representatives, the State Secretary of Foriegn Affairs, and, most recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

Jason and Frans talk about how the European Union can balance decarbonization, affordability, and energy security in the upcoming months. They also discuss what this crisis means for energy planning in the long-term. 

Sep 27, 2022

Developing countries face the dual challenge of meeting rapidly growing energy demand while also scaling clean energy to avoid dramatic increases in carbon emissions. But financing all of those clean energy projects can be tough.

Emerging and developing economies need clean energy investments. Researchers estimate that they will need anywhere between $1-2 trillion per year for the next 30 years to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Most of that capital will need to come from the private sector. Multilateral development banks are working to fill the gap and catalyze private finance. But they still have to work through unique financial, policy, and technical challenges in emerging and developing economies.

So what are these barriers? And how do we overcome them to mobilize more capital for clean energy projects across the developing world?

This week, host Jason Bordoff talks with Mafalda Duarte. Mafalda is the CEO of Climate Investment Funds, one of the most ambitious efforts to finance clean energy projects in developing and middle-income countries. 

Since 2015 she’s led efforts all over the world to help countries build climate-resilient economies by innovating ways to mobilize capital. She has extensive experience  managing climate-related portfolios and leading policy projects in more than 30 countries around the world. 

Jason and Mafalda discuss opportunities for financing the clean energy transition in emerging economies—including an ambitious new effort to phase out coal in parts of Africa and Asia.

Sep 20, 2022

Covid and the Russian war in Ukraine have slowed economic development in East Asia and the Pacific. High global commodity prices are stressing countries heavily dependent on energy and food imports. 

Recent heat waves and drought sweeping across the region are adding further economic pain.

In China, coal consumption is climbing as hydropower resources dry up. And it’s not the only major economy in the region heavily reliant on the dirtiest fossil fuel. Across Asia, hundreds of new coal plants and mines are being built.

So how do the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change – and the biggest users of coal –  balance economic development and the energy transition?

This week, Bill Loveless talks with Manuela Ferro, the Regional Vice President for East Asia and Pacific at the World Bank. Previously, Manuela served as Vice President of Operations Policy and Country Services, where she oversaw the Bank’s crisis response to the coronavirus pandemic. She’s an engineer and economist with a masters in engineering from University of Lisbon, and a Ph.D. in development economics from Stanford University.

Bill talks with Manuela about the World Bank’s recently released economic update on East Asia and the Pacific called Braving the Storm. They also discussed other developments – like the region’s reliance on coal for energy security, and how the World Bank can help the transition to cleaner energy.

Sep 13, 2022

Winter is coming. The energy crisis that is afflicting Europe and other parts of the world is worsening as Russia weaponizes natural gas.

After Putin turned off supply of Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipeline earlier this month, prices across Europe soared – causing severe pain for manufacturers and consumers, and pushing the region closer to recession. European countries are weighing emergency measures, like price caps and rationing.

In addition to the immediate energy crisis, key questions remain about what all of this means for the clean energy transition. The supply of critical materials for clean energy technologies – such as copper, lithium, and cobalt – will also present challenges. A recent report by S&P Global predicted that demand for copper will double by 2035 as a consequence of the energy transition, and it is unclear if the existing supply chains can sustain such an increase. 

How can governments and companies address the energy crisis without sacrificing progress on climate? And how might current and future supply shortages change the geopolitical landscape?

This week, Jason Bordoff talks with Dr. Dan Yergin, an internationally known authority on energy, geopolitics, and economics. He sits on the boards of numerous institutions – including Columbia’s Center of Global Energy Policy.

Dr. Yergin is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power.” And his most recent book, “The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations,” illustrates the greatest issues of geopolitics and energy today. 

He is the Vice Chairman of S&P Global, and was the project Chairman for the report, “The Future of Copper: Will the looming supply gap short-circuit the energy transition?”

Jason spoke with Dr. Yergin about the ongoing energy crisis, the supply of critical materials, and the future of energy superpowers.

Sep 8, 2022

Nuclear fusion seems like something out of science fiction – a reaction created inside a machine that replicates the sun. But the technology behind this process could be inching closer to reality. And with it, new opportunities to harness electricity.  

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act allocates $280 million for fusion energy science. And experiments in China, the U.K., and California have some scientists feeling hopeful that fusion could play a role in the global energy transition. 

But there’s a problem. At lower temperatures, nuclear fusion requires more energy than it produces. It’s only when the plasma used to combine atoms reaches an extremely high temperature that it sets off a chain reaction and makes the process sustainable. 

There are different approaches to achieving this chain reaction. But are scientists actually getting close to commercialization? And when will nuclear fusion be powering our homes and businesses? 

This week, host Bill Loveless talks with Dr. Dennis Whyte, Hitachi America Professor of Engineering at MIT and director of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center. He also leads the Laboratory for Innovations and Fusion technology, which has energy company sponsorship to explore early-stage, disruptive fusion technologies. 

Dr. Whyte played an integral role in Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a startup out of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, that recently raised $1.8 billion in funding to commercialize fusion energy. 

Bill talks with Dr. Whyte about the science behind nuclear fusion, his work at MIT, and the efforts to bring this technology to market.

Aug 30, 2022

In 2020, Europe passed a landmark climate package called the Green Deal. It was supposed to mark a new era of climate progress for the region.

Few expected that two years later, Europe would be burning more coal, importing more liquified natural gas, shifting from gas to oil for industry, and spending more money to subsidize fossil fuel consumption. Europe’s energy crisis, many years in the making, has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and the subsequent turmoil in regional and global energy markets.

The past six months have proven how the global energy transition will play out in chaotic and non-linear ways.

So what will today’s energy crisis mean for the energy transition? How will governments around the world react to today’s supply shortages and price spikes? And what does the wild ride for commodities and energy pricing mean for security and climate goals around the world? 

This week, we’re running an episode of the Foreign Affairs Interview podcast featuring our co-host, Jason Bordoff, and Meghan O’Sullivan, a professor of international affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. 

Meghan is the author of “Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power.” And she served as deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush Administration.

In June, Jason and Meghan joined host Dan Kurtz-Phelan to discuss their recent articles on the ongoing energy crisis. They talked about market volatility, President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, and why energy is still so central to geopolitics.

Aug 23, 2022

This summer’s climate bill features an historic investment: $60 billion will be devoted to clean energy projects and climate resilience for disadvantaged communities. It will  also create a green bank to help drive climate investments with explicit equity outcomes.

Environmental justice is getting real attention in policymaking at the federal and state level. So how do we define and measure it? And why is it so crucial to the energy transition?

This week we’re bringing back one of our most popular episodes from last summer – co-host Bill Loveless’s conversation with environmental justice pioneer Dr. Robert Bullard.

Dr. Bullard helped build the environmental justice movement decades ago, and currently serves as distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. His advocacy work has focused on everything from air pollution to housing to hurricane relief. 

This conversation on the history and urgency of environmental justice is particularly relevant given America’s recent investments in climate equity through the Inflation Reduction Act.

Aug 16, 2022

America is doubling down on support of electric vehicles. This summer’s historic climate bill extends key tax credits for buyers of EVs, putting them in reach for more drivers. 

 

Those credits also require a high percentage of American-sourced materials – which could be a long-term boon to domestic production, but a potential short-term problem for manufacturers with foreign supply chains.

Electric models make up 5% of EV sales in the U.S. and IHS Markit predicts EVs will represent 30% of sales by the end of the decade. With federal support of electric cars ramping up, what is the pathway for making EVs a mainstream choice?

We’re on a late summer break. So for the next couple of weeks, we’re bringing back some of our most popular interviews. This week features a conversation recorded in front of a live audience earlier this year between our co-host, Jason Bordoff, and two top figures in transportation: Jim Farley and Mary Nichols.

Jim Farley is president and chief executive officer of Ford. Mary Nichols is a long-time environmental champion and chair of the California Air Resources Board. She’s now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy.

Jim and Mary discuss the significant changes taking place in the auto industry given new federal policies promoting electric cars and buses.

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