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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: 2024
May 21, 2024

Industry accounts for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, a share that will only increase in the coming years. 

Other high-emission sectors, like electric power and transportation, are cutting emissions  through renewables and electrification. But the pathways to reducing emissions from manufacturing materials such as iron, steel, chemicals, cement, and concrete are still unclear. 

A new book by Jeffrey Rissman, titled Zero-Carbon Industry: Transformative Technologies and Policies to Achieve Sustainable Prosperity., dives into the nuances of industrial decarbonization and lays out a roadmap for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions between 2050 and 2070. 

So, what are some of the pathways for reducing manufacturing emissions? And how can policy support decarbonization? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Jeffrey about his book and its look at the workings of heavy industrial polluters and the ways to affordably decarbonize manufacturing. 

Jeffrey is the senior director of the industry program at Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan energy and climate policy firm, where he leads the company’s work on technologies and policies to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the industry sector. 

Zero-Carbon Industry is part of the Center on Global Energy Policy’s book series, and is published by Columbia University Press. 

May 14, 2024

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency passed four new rules to reduce pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

One of the new rules requires many new gas and existing coal power plants to control 90 percent of their carbon pollution if they plan to operate beyond 2039. The other three rules specifically target coal, requiring the industry to clean up various parts of the value chain including toxic metal emissions from power generation, wastewater pollution, and coal ash management.

And while the Biden Administration and other proponents consider the new rules a step in the right direction, opponents argue they will undermine the reliability of energy systems.   

So, how will the EPA’s new regulations impact the energy industry? What makes these standards different from previous attempts to regulate energy emissions? And how might opponents try to overturn them?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Jody Freeman about the technicalities of the new EPA power plant rules, and the legal avenues opponents might pursue to overturn them.

Jody is the Archibald Cox professor of law and the founding director of the Harvard Law School Environmental & Energy Law Program. From 2009-2010, she served as a counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama White House. Jody has also previously served on the Advisory Council of the Electric Power Research Institute and as an independent director of ConocoPhillips.

May 7, 2024

Indonesia’s economy is closely tied to its natural resources. It’s the world’s fourth largest producer of coal, and Southeast Asia’s largest gas supplier. 

But even with its connection to fossil fuels, the country’s population strongly supports climate goals. In this year’s presidential election, every candidate advocated for the energy transition and more renewables. 

At the same time, like many developing countries, Indonesia needs energy security, increased access to energy, and affordability. These factors complicate the energy transition, and could prolong the use of existing fossil fuel infrastructure and abundant coal resources. 

So, how can Indonesian policymakers balance economic development and the energy transition? What is the role of renewables in meeting the country’s growing energy demands? And how can Indonesia collaborate in energy with other Asian nations?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Mari Pangestu about the efforts to build a clean energy economy in Indonesia. 

Mari is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy. From 2020 to 2023, she served as the managing director of development policies and partnerships at the World Bank. Prior to joining the World Bank, Mari served as Indonesia’s minister of trade and as minister of tourism and creative economy.

Apr 30, 2024

Across the U.S., large scale renewable energy projects, transmission lines, and mining sites for critical minerals are built on or near tribal lands. For example, the federal government plans to loan billions of dollars to Lithium Americas to develop a lithium mine in Nevada at a location known as Thacker Pass, sacred to local Paiute and Shoshone people. 

With the tumultuous history of energy development on indigenous lands, many tribes are pushing back on citing new infrastructure on their land.

So, how is the energy transition impacting Native American communities? And what are advocacy groups and the federal government doing to protect indigenous rights and lands?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Kate Finn about the contentious history of energy projects on Native American lands, how that history influences energy development today, and how her organization is working to ensure Native Americans have a seat at the table in determining how best to use indigenous lands. 

Kate is the executive director of First Peoples Worldwide, an organization focused on upholding the rights, sovereignty, and economic power of Indigenous People around the world. She was the inaugural American Indian Law Program Fellow at the University of Colorado Law, where she worked directly with tribes and Native communities. Her recent work focuses on the impacts of development in Indigenous communities, and embedding respect for Indigenous peoples into routine business operations.

Apr 23, 2024

Geopolitics looms large over the global economy. A recent client survey by Goldman Sachs found geopolitics is the top investment risk of this year, overtaking inflation and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. 

The market impacts by the wars in Europe and the Middle East, and the rising tension between China and Taiwan, are hard to predict. And the rise of protectionism, economic fragmentation, and industrial policy are inflaming tensions in a new era of great power competition. 

So, how should we understand this shifting world order? What is coming next in the Middle East following Iran’s attack on Israel? And how do energy and climate change impact national security? 

This week’s episode features a fireside chat between Jason Bordoff and Tom Donilon from the Columbia Global Energy Summit 2024, which was hosted by the Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia SIPA last week at Columbia University in New York. 

Tom is chairman of the BlackRock Investment Institute. From 2010 to 2013, he served as national security advisor to President Barack Obama. He has worked closely with and advised three U.S. presidents since his first position at the White House in 1977, working with President Carter. He later served in senior roles in the Pentagon and the State Department.

Apr 16, 2024

Cleaner alternatives to the oil and gas that power vital industries are necessary for economy-wide decarbonization. E-fuels, or electrofuels, are touted as a carbon neutral solution for the hard-to-decarbonize sectors that rely on energy dense fossil fuels. 

E-fuels are made by combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide. Through the electrolysis process, water is split into oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen is then combined with CO2 through a process called synthesis. The outcome is an energy-dense liquid, synthetic fuel. 

But currently, the e-fuels production process makes these alternatives more expensive than fossil fuels. And when burned, they release CO2, making critics question the claims of climate neutrality. 

So, what is the climate impact of e-fuels? What industries are turning to these alternatives for decarbonization? And how can policy and tax incentives make them cost competitive with conventional oil and gas? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Meg Gentle about the use of e-fuels for transport. 

Meg is the executive director of HIF Global, an e-fuel company developing some of the largest projects around the world. Before joining HIF, Meg served as the director of Ovintiv, an independent petroleum company, and as the president and CEO of the natural gas company Tellurian. She also spent ten years working for Cheniere Energy, helping grow their LNG marketing and trading company into a world-wide business.

 

Apr 9, 2024

From methane monitoring to integrating more renewables into the power mix, artificial intelligence has the potential to transform the energy transition. It can be used to reduce emissions from food systems, and hard-to-abate sectors, like steel and cement manufacturing. 

But the amount of energy AI will require is generating interest, uncertainty and concern. And this is in addition to the need for more electricity to help decarbonize multiple sectors.

So what are the high potential opportunities for using AI to combat climate change and what are the risks? How will AI exacerbate existing stress on the power sector? And what are some of the opportunities to lower costs and increase efficiencies?  

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with two of the authors of the “Roadmap on Artificial Intelligence for Climate Change Mitigation,” David Sandalow and Alp Kucukelbir.

David Sandalow is the inaugural fellow at the  Center on Global Energy Policy. Previously, David served at the U.S. Department of Energy and was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He has served as assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment, and science, and as a senior director on the National Security Council staff. 

Alp Kucukelbir is the co-founder and chief scientist  at Fero Labs. He is an adjunct professor of computer science at Columbia University and leads the entrepreneurship efforts at Climate Change AI.

Apr 2, 2024

On March 6, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted new rules to standardize climate-related disclosures for public business and public offerings. Hoping to provide investors with consistent and comparable information, the Commission’s new rules require companies to disclose emissions and the expenses and losses associated with climate risks in annual filings and reports. 

But critics immediately balked at the rules, questioning its legality and effectiveness. 

So, how does the SEC define climate-related risks? How do their disclosure requirements compare to similar rules passed in the EU and California? And what are the critics saying? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Shiva Rajgopal about the SEC’s climate disclosure ruling and his Forbes’ column on the topic, “The SEC’s New Climate Rule Is A Reasonable Political Compromise In An Election Year”.  

Shiva is the Kester and Byrnes Professor of Accounting and Auditing at Columbia Business School. His research interests span financial reporting, earnings quality, fraud, executive compensation and corporate culture. From 2017-2019, Shiva served as the vice dean of research for Columbia Business School and has been a faculty member at Duke University, Emory University, and the University of Washington.

Mar 26, 2024

Methane leakage is one of many issues at the forefront today over how the oil and gas industry is engaging in the clean energy transition. Importantly, this industry includes not only some of the better-known energy companies, but also many national oil companies. Collectively they produce about half the world’s oil and gas.

During last year’s COP28, these companies committed to cutting methane emissions and working towards decarbonizing the industry. But the energy transition for these companies is a delicate balance, as they are responsible for generating revenue and ensuring energy security for their countries. 

So, how will global pledges to decarbonize impact the oil and gas industry? What is the role for cleaner fuels like hydrogen in meeting growing energy demand? How much progress is being made to curb methane emissions? And what is the role of national oil companies in the transition? 

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Mark Brownstein about the importance of reducing methane emissions and what the transition looks like for national oil companies. 

Mark is the senior vice president of energy transition at the Environmental Defense Fund. He has been with EDF for almost two decades, working to halt the rise of global oil and gas emissions and accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. Before joining EDF, Mark worked for Public Service Enterprise Group, a large electric and gas utility holding company in the U.S. He has also taught energy policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. 

Mar 19, 2024

To limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, emissions should already be decreasing and need to be cut by almost half by 2030. Although this target is just six years away, fossil fuels experienced continued demand and revenue growth in 2023. 

At CERAWeek by S&P Global, one of the world’s largest annual energy conferences, the energy transition is at the forefront of conversations. But energy security and different pathways to net-zero goals is also the theme of the conference, and many companies are recommitting to their traditional oil and gas businesses even as they invest more in clean energy. 

How do we navigate the path to a clean energy future? What is the outlook for energy prices and markets? What impact will today’s geopolitical challenges have on the transition? And what effects will the many elections around the world have on the energy sector?

This week host Jason Bordoff is at CERAWeek talking with Javier Blas about the path to a clean energy future. 

Javier is an opinion columnist for Bloomberg covering energy and commodities. He was previously at the Financial Times, where he held various positions, including his roles as the Africa editor and the commodities editor. Javier is a coauthor of the book The World for Sale: Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources released in 2021.

Mar 12, 2024

For more than a century, extractive industry and capitalism have dominated the developed world’s economies. Some of the biggest companies in the world produce and sell oil and gas, and those commodities have made countries and people very wealthy. But they’re also a major source of pollution and contributor to the climate crisis. In response, many of these companies have started investing in renewable energy, others have completely shifted their focus to clean solutions. 

Akshat Rathi’s new book Climate Capitalism delves into this shift and argues that saving the earth is economically more advantageous than destroying it. 

So, what is climate capitalism? How can this new approach facilitate climate innovation and economic growth? And what will it take to move away from traditional capitalism? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Akshat about his new book and how reforming the current economic system can address climate change and be profitable.

Akshat is a senior climate reporter for Bloomberg News. Prior to Bloomberg, he was a senior reporter at Quartz and a science editor at The Conversation. His new book, Climate Capitalism: Winning the Race to Zero Emissions and Solving the Crisis of our Age has been named one of the best books of the year by the The London Times and The Economic Times. 

Mar 8, 2024

Batteries are finding their way into everything – from cars to heavy equipment to the electric grid. But scaling up production to meet the demands of a net-zero economy is complicated and contentious. 

Season 4 of The Big Switch, a Columbia University podcast hosted by Dr. Melissa Lott, digs into the ways batteries are made and asks: what gets mined, traded, and consumed on the road to decarbonization?

This is part one of “The Great Battery Boom,” a five-part series on global battery supply chains. Find the rest of Season 4 of The Big Switch on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Mar 5, 2024

The success of the energy transition hinges on the availability of affordable capital to fund clean energy projects. The rise of green industrial policy in wealthy economies has mobilized public capital to fund clean energy projects, and attracted private capital through subsidies and tax incentives. 

But in emerging and developing economies, there are many more barriers to deploying capital for clean energy at the scale and speed needed. The International Monetary Fund projects that of the $5 trillion in annual investments needed globally by 2030 to meet the world’s net-zero emissions goals, $2 trillion will need to be made in emerging markets and developing economies.

So, what is the role of private capital in accelerating the clean energy transition in economies around the world? And how can private sector coalitions advance the energy transition amidst anti-ESG backlash and higher cost of capital? 

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Nigel Topping about the pace of technological innovation to scale the energy transition, and the role of private capital in meeting global climate commitments.

Nigel is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and a global advisor to governments, financial institutions, and private companies on climate and industrial strategy. He served as the United Kingdom’s High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26. In this role, he mobilized the global private sector and local government to take action on climate change by launching the Race To Zero and Race To Resilience campaigns and, together with Mark Carney, launched the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Nigel is also a non-executive director of the UK Infrastructure Bank and an honorary professor of economics at Exeter University.

Feb 27, 2024

In a new partnership with Google, the Environmental Defense Fund has developed a satellite that will orbit the Earth fifteen times a day and monitor methane emissions. The satellite, called MethaneSAT, will provide specific data on which parts of oil and gas infrastructure are the biggest methane emitters. Using artificial intelligence, MethaneSAT will overlay emissions data on oil and gas infrastructure maps to pinpoint the components that are responsible for methane leaks. 

So, what are the implications of this new methane detection technology? And can it be expanded to detect other greenhouse gasses?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with EDF’s Steve Hamburg about the capabilities of MethaneSAT, and how they differ from other satellites that detect methane.

Steve is the chief scientist and a senior vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund. He leads the organization’s work to quantify methane emissions and understand the impacts on air pollution and human health. Before joining EDF in 2008, he was an environmental science professor at University of Kansas and Brown University, where he was the founding director of the Global Environment Program. He has also served as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and was acknowledged as one of the contributing recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Feb 20, 2024

Brazil is in a strategic position when it comes to energy and climate issues. It holds the presidency of the G20 nations this year and the UN climate talks – or COP30 – in 2025.

This comes as the nation sees a significant reduction in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and new commitments to pursue low-carbon technologies, such as hydrogen, and establish a regulated carbon market. At the same time, Brazil, the biggest producer of oil in Latin America, is planning to ramp up its output.

So, how is the energy transition unfolding in Brazil? And how can the country balance environmental protection and energy security? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Thiago Barral about how Brazil plans to build up clean energy technologies, and how geopolitics shapes that strategy.

Thiago is the national secretary of planning and energy transition of the Ministry of Mines and Energy for Brazil. Before his role as secretary, Thiago was the president of the Energy Research Company, a Brazilian institution responsible for energy planning studies and official state energy statistics. He joined the Energy Research Company in 2007, and also served as director of energy economics and environmental studies.

Feb 13, 2024

Against the backdrop of climate change, a global debt crisis is raising concerns about the cost of the energy transition. Countries in the Global South — which are trying to balance economic development and climate adaptation — are calling for reforms to the global financial system to get more access to cheaper capital.

 

The World Bank, which provides loans and grants to emerging and developing economies, is a major financier of international development. Last year, it delivered $38.6 billion in climate finance. But because of its significant capacity, the organization is often scrutinized for how it manages and allocates funds.

So, how can the global financial system better support emerging and developing economies amid a changing climate? And how is the World Bank under a new president, Ajay Banga, working to meet these challenges? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Axel van Trotsenburg about the World Bank’s climate agenda. 

Axel is the World Bank’s senior managing director, responsible for development policies and partnerships. As such, he is the second in command at the bank. He directs the organization’s core work on sustainable development, with a focus on climate change, fragility, human capital, and sustainable debt. Axel has been with the World Bank for more than 30 years, having also held various senior positions there.

Feb 6, 2024

For more than three decades, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has prepared comprehensive scientific assessments about the drivers and risks of climate change. The assessments, released every five to seven years, also explain how mitigation and adaptation could reduce those risks. 

To confront the growing urgency of the climate crisis, governments around the world turn to the IPCC for guidance on emissions reductions strategies. That said, the organization makes clear that its research is not meant to be prescriptive. 

So, how do its findings support climate policy and action around the world? And what role does science play in shaping global climate negotiations? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with IPCC’s Jim Skea about how the organization’s research contributes to public policy. 

Jim is the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Before his election as chair in July 2023, he was the co-chair of Working Group III of the IPCC, which focuses on climate change mitigation. Jim also served as the chair of Scotland’s Just Transition Commission from 2018 to 2023 and was a founding member of the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change.

Jan 30, 2024

Within days of taking office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to create the Justice40 Initiative. The policy aims to allocate 40% of the benefits of federal clean energy and climate investments to frontline communities. 

For the energy sector, it’s helping to shine a growing light on  “energy justice.” Historically, the current energy system has negatively impacted disadvantaged communities the most – communities that often lack access to affordable energy, are excluded from potential benefits of a clean energy economy, and suffer the greatest harms from climate change. The Energy Opportunity Lab at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs is working to address these challenges, among many others. 

So, what progress has been made in ensuring energy justice for frontline communities? And with the energy transition continuing to accelerate in size and scale, how do we make sure disadvantaged communities aren’t left behind?

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Shalanda Baker about the historical inequities of energy systems, and the Biden administration’s agenda on energy equity and climate justice.

Shalanda is the director of the Office of Energy Justice and Equity in the U.S. Department of Energy, and the secretarial advisor on equity. She also serves as chief diversity officer for the agency. Prior to her Senate confirmation in 2022, Shalanda served as the nation’s first-ever deputy director for energy justice. Before joining the Biden administration, she co-founded and co-directed the Initiative for Energy Justice, which provides technical law and policy support to communities on the front lines of climate change.

Jan 23, 2024

Around the world, new policies like the Inflation Reduction Act or the European Union's Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism aim to accelerate the pace of decarbonization. But these same policies have also fueled trade tensions and raised concerns about protectionism. 

A successful clean energy transition means much more trade in clean energy technologies and products, according to the International Energy Agency. A rules-based global trading system, governed by the World Trade Organization, underpins much of that trade. But increasingly the WTO has faced challenges and calls for reform, particularly around issues of sustainability and climate change. 

So what reforms are needed to align the global trade framework with climate goals and policies around the world? And how can the World Trade Organization support both economic progress and sustainable development? 

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Dan Esty about how climate policy and trade policy intersect.

Dan is the Hillhouse Professor at Yale University and director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. He just finished public service leave working at the World Trade Organization and is co-leading the Remaking Global Trade for a Sustainable Future Project. Dan has written numerous books on environmental responsibility and economic progress, including Green to Gold and Greening the GATT. He previously served in a number of leadership roles at the Environmental Protection Agency, and as the Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection from 2011 to 2014.

Jan 16, 2024

The Department of the Interior is a key player in the energy transition in the U.S.. The federal government owns about 28% of the 2.3 billion acres of land in the country. The Department is responsible for permitting oil and gas drilling, renewable development, and mining on its vast land holdings. 

At the same time, the DOI is tasked with protecting America’s national parks and wilderness holdings for future generations. As the urgency of the climate crisis grows, the agency is at the heart of the difficult trade-offs between conservation and energy development that will define the energy transition. 

What does an environmentally and socially responsible approach to the energy transition look like? And how does the federal government weigh the impacts and benefits of energy development on public lands?

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Tommy Beaudreau about the DOI’s effort to protect public lands and support the development of a domestic clean energy economy.

Tommy is the co-chair of WilmerHale’s energy, environment, and natural resources practice, and a distinguished visiting fellow at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy. He recently served as deputy secretary of the Department of Interior from 2021-2023. Tommy served in senior leadership roles in the Department for nearly a decade across two administrations, including as the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in 2011.

Jan 9, 2024

As 2024 kicks off, energy and climate policy discussions loom large in Washington. With the added complexity of the November presidential elections in the U.S., it remains uncertain what will happen regarding the increasingly partisan issues of environmental regulation and green industrial policy.

The Biden administration plans to continue implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, but Republicans in Congress could take action to hinder further progress. And government agencies, like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, could be significantly impacted by the Supreme Court’s ruling on a case that questions agencies’ ability to enact regulations. 

So, what can we expect to happen in the nation’s capital on the energy and climate front this year? And where are the reporters who follow this beat going to focus their attention? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with journalists Jennifer Dlouhy and Justin Worland about what they’re keeping an eye on this year, and how Democrats and Republicans might approach major energy policy issues. 

Jennifer is an energy and environmental policy reporter at Bloomberg News. Before joining Bloomberg in 2015, she was the Washington correspondent for the Houston Chronicle where she covered energy and environmental policy with a special focus on oil and gas.

Justin is a senior correspondent at TIME, where he covers climate change and the intersection of policy, politics, and society. In 2022, he received Covering Climate Now’s inaugural Climate Journalist of the Year Award.

Jan 2, 2024

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last year marked not only significant climate action but efforts to shape industrial policy. Through billions of dollars of subsidies, the IRA aimed to quicken the pace and scale of the energy transition and also bolster domestic manufacturing and the economy. While providing an infusion of capital to America’s clean energy economy, the legislation heightened trade tensions around the world, with other countries vying to capture their share of clean energy supply chains. 

How does this green industrial strategy fit within the Biden Administration’s climate and economic goals? What potential impacts could policy have on the trade risks to the energy transition? And how might the energy transition affect the economy or economic inequities in American society?

This week for our second and final holiday rerun, we’re featuring host Jason Bordoff’s interview with Heather Boushey about the Biden Administration’s climate and economic policies and the case for green spending.

Heather is a member of the Council of Economic Advisors for the Biden administration and chief economist to the Biden administration’s “Invest in America” cabinet. Heather works on domestic investment and implementation of infrastructure and clean energy laws. She previously co-founded the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, where she served as chief economist, president and CEO. She has also held the position of chief economist for the Center for American Progress.

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