Freeing the world of poverty is the predominant goal of the World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. And one of the most important factors in achieving that objective is providing reliable and affordable electricity to the more than 1 billion people around the world who lack it now.
In this episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Riccardo Puliti, the top energy official at the World Bank. As a senior director and head of the Energy and Extractives Global Practice at the bank, Riccardo leads a team of 400 professionals who develop policies and financing in these industries, with a portfolio of some $40 billion.
Bill and Riccardo met recently at his office at World Bank headquarters in Washington, two years after their first conversation on the Columbia Energy Exchange, when Riccardo was still new to the job. They talked about what’s happened since then, including stepped-up efforts at the bank to promote access to renewable energy in remote regions like Africa and Southeast Asia and to address the threats of climate change.
Always an optimist, Riccardo finds satisfaction in the progress that’s been made to expand access to cleaner types of energy, though he acknowledges more needs to be done. And he’s keen on the potential of new technologies like energy storage. But he also makes clear the bank’s concerns over climate change, whose potential impact is of growing concern to nations around the world.
Of course, he and Bill were meeting as the World Bank awaits a new president, following the resignation of Jim Yong Kim earlier this year and the Trump administration’s nomination of David Malpass, an official at the U.S. Treasury Department, to replace him. Will energy and climate policies change under the bank’s new leadership? Not surprisingly, Riccardo responded carefully, saying, “We have to wait until the new president comes and then see what kind of dialogue takes place.”
Prior to joining the World Bank, Riccardo was the managing director in charge of energy and extractive industries at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He started his career at Istituto Mobiliare Italiano in 1987 before moving to Banque Indosuez and NM Rothschild where he worked in equity capital markets, always in the energy and infrastructure sectors.
The debate in Congress over climate change has heightened now that Democrats control the House of Representatives and make the issue one of their top priorities in 2019. But how much can they accomplish in the face of resistance from the Trump Administration and a Republican-led Senate? And what specifically will they work on?
In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, host Bill Loveless sits down with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, one of the most outspoken advocates of policies to address climate change in Congress. He often addresses the topic on the Senate floor with speeches he calls “Time to Wake Up!” And he’s been a sponsor of legislation to put a price on carbon emissions, too.
But the Rhode Island Democrat is also known for reaching across the political aisle to work with Republicans on bills to promote nuclear energy and carbon-capture technologies.
Bill met with Senator Whitehouse in his office to talk about what Democratic control of the House might mean for the climate debate in Congress this year, including what he makes of the movement for a Green New Deal. Their talk took place a couple of days before one of his colleagues, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., unveiled a resolution outlining goals of a Green New Deal. It also came as Senator Whitehouse and seven other Democrats and Republicans re-introduced legislation to help find profitable uses for captured carbon dioxide.
The conversation touched as well on his views on corporate spending on election campaigns and lobbying, and their impact on efforts to advance or block new climate policies in Congress.
Sen. Whitehouse is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law. He was Rhode Island’s director of business regulation before being nominated by President Bill Clinton to be Rhode Island’s U.S. attorney in 1994. He was elected attorney general of Rhode Island in 1998, a position he held until 2003. In 2006, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he is a member of the Budget Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Finance Committee.
He and his wife Sandra, a marine biologist and environmental advocate, live in Newport, R.I.
Since its debut last year, the Green New Deal has created quite a stir in Washington. Some have praised it as the most ambitious national project since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, while others have dismissed it as a green dream. Earlier this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) partnered to introduce a preview of this bold new effort to address both economic inequality and climate change.
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by one of the architects of the Green New Deal, Rhiana Gunn-Wright. Rhiana is the Policy Director for New Consensus, the progressive policy shop advancing the deal. She breaks down the thinking behind this sweeping plan, which calls for 100% clean energy as well as affordable housing and high-quality healthcare. They discuss the speed, scale and scope of the Green New Deal, and the collective spirit driving the new policy.
Venezuela's political crisis has reached a boiling point amid growing efforts to unseat authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro. The country has been caught in a downward spiral for years, with growing political discontent fueled by skyrocketing inflation, power cuts, and shortages of food and medicine. U.S. officials have been hesitant to apply sanctions on Venezuelan oil, fearing they would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the country and potentially push up fuel prices in the U.S. But with Maduro and National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó locked in a struggle for control of the streets and the military, it seems they’ve decided it’s now worth the risk.
Media reports are conflicting, some presenting this as a total oil trade cut-off with the United States, but the government shut-down and the rapid nature of the decision-making on Venezuela leaves many experts questioning just how far the sanctions go, and what that might mean for oil markets.
On this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Center on Global Energy Policy experts Distinguished Visiting Fellow Minister Mauricio Cárdenas, Senior Research Scholar Antoine Halff, and Senior Research Scholar Richard Nephew to discuss what prompted the sanctions, and their impact on trade, fuel supply and prices.