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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: Category: News and Politics
Jul 12, 2022

In June, Colombia elected a new president: Gustavo Petro. 

Petro is pushing major reforms in this oil-exporting country. He promised to cut Colombia’s reliance on selling oil and extracting raw materials, while also ramping up climate targets. Will Colombia become the first oil exporter to ban new production?

Petro’s win is part of a broader progressive shift in Latin America around climate and energy. How will recent political developments in Colombia and other Latin American countries affect the future of oil and mining on the continent, and what do these shifts mean for the clean energy transition? 

This week, host Bill Loveless sits down with Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas, a visiting senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy.

As Colombia’s finance minister between 2012 and 2018, Dr. Cárdenas served during an oil shock that led to a 40% reduction in Colombia’s exports.

Mauricio and Bill discussed whether the incoming Colombian president can deliver on his campaign promises. They also explore the state of energy and climate policy across Latin America.

Jul 6, 2022

In a 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA, Supreme Court justices determined that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its authority in regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Since the Thursday decision, several environmental groups have called the monumental ruling devastating to the Biden administration’s efforts to facilitate a clean energy transition. 

For a breakdown of the decision and its implications for climate regulations moving forward, host Bill Loveless spoke with legal experts Michael Gerrard and Jeff Holmstead. 

Michael is founder and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. He has pioneered innovative legal strategies and teaches courses on environmental law, climate change law and energy regulation. Before his time at Columbia, Michael was the head of the New York law office of Arnold & Porter.

Jeff heads the Environmental Strategies Group at the law firm Bracewell. He previously served as assistant administrator for air and radiation at the EPA under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. During his tenure, he was one of the architects behind the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the Clean Air Diesel Rule and the Mercury Rule for power plants.

The pair discussed precisely how the rule curbs the EPA’s power, where it stops short, and the kind of legal precedence it sets for future cases.

Jun 28, 2022

This week, Columbia Energy Exchange brings you an episode of another podcast called Catalyst. 

It’s a weekly show hosted by climate tech veteran Shayle Kann about the future of decarbonization. Each week, different experts, researchers, and executives come on to unpack the latest hurdles to decarbonization and advancing new climate tech solutions. 

This episode is all about weighing the risks and rewards of solar geoengineering. 

In it, Shayle speaks with a climate modeler named Dan Visioni who conducts research on solar geoengineering at Cornell University’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. 

They explore key questions, including:

  • What do we know about the potential effects on ozone, precipitation and ecosystems? What do we need to research, and what could we learn by testing?
  • Which could scale faster: carbon dioxide removal or solar geoengineering?  
  • Solar geoengineering could cost a tiny fraction of the amount required to scale up carbon dioxide removal. Does that mean it could buy us time to draw down emissions in a less expensive manner? Or would its relative affordability enable a rogue actor to deploy it without international collaboration?
  • And who gets to make the final decision on whether the world should deploy solar geoengineering? Whose hand is on the thermostat, so to speak?

Episodes of Catalyst drop every Thursday. The show is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

Jun 21, 2022

President Biden is heading to Saudi Arabia next month amidst a global energy crisis. The trip is nothing new. For decades when faced with an oil crisis, presidents from both political parties have turned to Saudi Arabia. 

That’s because it’s one of the key players in the global oil market, producing about 10% of the world’s oil. 

For a deep dive into the unique role that Saudi Arabia plays in global oil markets, host Jason Bordoff spoke with Dr. Ibrahim AlMuhanna. He’s the vice chairman of the Saudi Association for Energy Economics and a longtime advisor to the Ministry of Energy for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Between 1989 and 2017, he worked closely with four successive energy ministers, playing a central role in developing Saudi energy policy and communicating it to the outside world. His new book “Oil Leaders: An Insider’s Account of Four Decades of Saudi Arabia and OPEC's Global Energy Policy” is the latest in the Center on Global Energy Policy book series published through Columbia University Press.

The pair discussed Dr. AlMuhanna’s career overseeing consequential energy decisions and the role of Saudi Arabia in global energy markets now and moving forward.

Jun 14, 2022

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continues to influence global energy systems, despite challenges to its unity and market share. Just this year, global leaders called upon OPEC to increase output to bring down oil prices. 

But the organization comes under tremendous scrutiny for many of the decisions it makes, with some arguing that it has not done enough to address oil price spikes and others questioning its role generally. 

For a look at how OPEC is navigating the current oil crisis and the broader clean energy transition, host Jason Bordoff spoke with His Excellency Mohammad Barkindo. 

Barkindo has served as secretary general of OPEC for the last six years, with his term set to end in July. His tenure at OPEC has coincided with major upheavals in the global oil market, including the supply glut of the mid-2010s, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. He previously represented Nigeria at OPEC and held various senior roles at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. 

The pair discussed OPEC’s role amid political turmoil, rapidly fluctuating energy markets, changes within the oil industry, along with Barkindo’s reflections on his time at OPEC’s helm.

Jun 7, 2022

Earlier this year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed new regulations that would require publicly-traded companies to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions and disclose certain climate risks.

The mandated rules around disclosure would be unprecedented in the United States and come at a time when investors are increasingly concerned about companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments. But the controversial measure is stirring up complaints – from those who say it goes too far, and others who say it doesn’t go far enough. 

For deeper insight into the SEC’s proposed rules, host Bill Loveless spoke with Dr. Shivaram Rajgopal, the Kester and Byrnes Professor of Accounting and Auditing at Columbia Business School. 

Shivaram was previously a faculty member at Duke University, Emory University and the University of Washington, and his work is frequently cited in outlets like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Forbes

Together, they discuss some of the key provisions in the proposal and the broader implications it could have for the future of corporate climate accountability. 

May 31, 2022

Oil refiners are currently seeing a big boom in business – but how long will it last? 

The process of turning crude into usable products has been plagued for years by low profitability and overcapacity, and the pandemic took a toll on many refineries which in some cases shut their doors permanently.

And now climate action, the potential for an economic slump and global fuel shortages are raising new questions about whether refiners should continue to invest or cash out. 

For answers to these big questions surrounding oil refining, host Bill Loveless spoke with Robin Mills, chief executive at Qamar Energy in Dubai. The company provides regionally-based insight and consulting across the oil and gas, renewable, hydrogen and carbon management sectors in the Middle East. 

Prior to this, Robin led major consulting assignments for the European Union in Iraq and for a variety of international oil companies. Robin previously worked for Shell, developing new business in the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern countries and for Dubai Holding and the Emirates National Oil Company.

He is the author of two books: “The Myth of the Oil Crisis” and “Capturing Carbon.”

The pair discuss the current landscape for oil refining, the impact of the pandemic, and the role policymakers and government leaders can play in alleviating market disruptions.

May 24, 2022
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for safeguarding U.S.  nuclear infrastructure, maintaining energy security, fostering technology innovation, and guiding the country towards a green energy transition. 

Today, the DOE is facing converging crises: climate change, global supply chains still impacted by the pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So, what can the federal government do to sustainably shore up the country's energy sector? 

To answer that question, host Jason Bordoff speaks with David Turk, deputy secretary of energy at the DOE and former deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency.

Jason and David discuss the war in Ukraine, the future of clean energy technology, and what energy security looks like in a decarbonizing world.

May 17, 2022
Europe is at a crossroads over nuclear power. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Europe to reconsider its energy mix.  Migrating away from Russian supply chains has become a priority, and Europe is looking at nuclear as one possible alternative. But opinions about nuclear energy vary throughout the European Union, where a quarter of all electricity comes from often aging reactors in a dozen countries.

For insight into how the pressures of energy security and climate change could affect the future of nuclear energy on the continent, host Bill Loveless spoke with Mark Hibbs, a nonresident senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 

Based in Germany, Mark focuses on international nuclear trade and nonproliferation as well as policy concerning the generation of nuclear power. Before joining Carnegie in 2010, he spent more than 20 years as an accomplished editor and senior correspondent with Nucleonics Week and other nuclear energy publications at S&P Global Platts.

Bill and Mark spoke about the outlook for nuclear energy in Europe as the war persists, the potential of new reactors as an alternative to Russian oil and natural gas, and the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors amid the war. 

May 10, 2022

Despite some setbacks, Europe is considering a ban on Russian oil, a major step toward energy independence from Russia. Meanwhile, Russia’s demand that buyers pay for its natural gas in rubles has put European consumers in a tough spot and has led Russia to cut off gas exports to Bulgaria and Poland. 

All of this puts Europe in the middle of an energy crisis – with no clear end in sight. 

For a look at whether Europe can stand against Russia without compromising its own energy supply and continue to make progress on its clean energy goals, host Jason Bordoff speaks with Kadri Simson. She’s the European Commissioner for Energy and works to ensure Europe has affordable, sustainable, and secure sources of energy. 

Before joining the European Commission in 2019, she was Estonia’s Minister for Economic Affairs and has held various other positions in the Estonian government. 

During her recent visit to Columbia University, Commissioner Simson and Jason discussed various aspects of the European energy market including Europe’s natural gas demand, the importance of Russia’s diesel and refined products, and the continent’s nuclear future.

Apr 26, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent oil and natural gas markets for a loop. 

But less attention has been paid to the implications of the war for global energy and food security, particularly for the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). 

For a deep dive into whether Western nations can still fulfill the climate finance promises made to LDCs in the midst of an unfolding global conflict and energy crisis in Europe, host Bill Loveless turned to Dr. Harry Verhoeven. 

He’s a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy who has collaborated extensively with key policy actors including the World Bank, the European Union, the United Nations and governments around the world. He is also the founder and Convenor of the Oxford University China-Africa Network. 

In this conversation, Dr. Verhoeven outlines how the Russia-Ukraine conflict is destabilizing prices for certain food commodities like wheat and what the Russia-Ukraine war means for energy transitions of countries like Angola, Sudan and Mozambique. 

Recently, Dr. Verhoeven authored a paper on the topic for CGEP called “International Energy Markets and Food Insecurity in the Least Developed Countries: The Russia-Ukraine Crisis and Beyond.” Soon, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will release another report by Harry on the same topic.

Apr 19, 2022
Around the world, natural gas prices continue to tick upward, surging to levels not seen in more than a decade. 

Russia’s war on Ukraine is largely to blame for high energy prices in Europe as the continent competes with Asia for already tight supplies of non-Russian gas. And the scramble for alternatives to Russian gas has reached the US, where prices have doubled since the beginning of the year.

For a look at what the future holds for natural gas markets, host Jason Bordoff spoke with Ira Joseph. He’s the head of global generating fuels and electric power pricing at S&P Global Platts. 

Ira has decades of experience researching the gas sector and previously worked at the PIRA Energy Group, where he started the firm’s European gas and power and Global LNG Service in 1999. 

The pair discussed the factors contributing to the abnormally high gas prices and the implications for energy security, the clean energy transition and global climate commitments.

Apr 12, 2022

Russia’s oil and natural gas commodities get a lot of attention, but the country’s critical metals and minerals supplies – which include steel, titanium, nickel, cobalt and lithium – are also cause for concern. 

Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine could disrupt the global supply of these materials, which can be found in every corner of our lives. Notably, these minerals are essential components of clean energy technologies like solar panels, wind turbines and batteries for electric vehicles.

For a look at how global supply chains of critical minerals will be crucial to the energy transition – and how these supply chains can be managed effectively – host Bill Loveless spoke with Abigail Wulf. She’s the Vice President and Director of Critical Minerals Strategy at SAFE, a nonpartisan organization that promotes U.S. energy security policies. 

Previously, she was a Senior Science Communicator at NASA where she worked to promote NASA's Earth Science research.

In this conversation, they discuss the implications of the war for critical mineral supply chains, China’s control over mineral processing facilities and steps the US government could take to develop sustainable mining projects. 

Apr 5, 2022

Wildfires, extreme heat and particulate matter from fossil fuel power plants are increasingly affecting the well-being of people in the U.S. and other countries.

In this episode, host Bill Loveless visits with Dr. Renee Salas about the adverse impacts of climate change on public health. As a leading public health researcher and emergency medical doctor, Dr. Salas has published extensively and testified in Congress on the impact of climate change on healthcare and the medical system.

She served as the lead author of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change U.S. Brief since 2018.  

Dr. Salas is a Yerby Fellow at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also a practicing emergency medical physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School.

They bring us a compelling conversation about the mindset shift necessary to address the climate health crisis head on.

Mar 29, 2022

Earlier this month, a delegation of senior U.S. officials made an unexpected visit to South America to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

The visit caused a flurry of speculation. Will the United States consider easing oil sanctions on Venezuela to replace Russian crude? Such a move could have huge ramifications for Venezuela’s oil exports but involves navigating a complicated relationship with the Maduro regime. 

For a look into how this could work, host Bill Loveless spoke with Dr. Luisa Palacios, a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy and former Chairwoman of Citgo Petroleum Corporation. 

Luisa was on the show a few months ago for a conversation about the energy transition in Latin America. She returns to discuss a paper she recently co-authored: “Venezuela Oil Sanctions: Not An Easy Fix.”

Together, they discuss the potential ripple effects of easing sanctions on Venezuela as oil prices spike around the globe.

Mar 22, 2022

Heavy Russian airstrikes continue in Ukraine with no end in sight. 

As the conflict escalates, rising oil prices are causing alarm about the future of global energy markets. So far, sanctions issued by the European Union have spared Russia’s energy exports, but some European Commission officials have started to call for an oil embargo. 

To make sense of the recent oil price volatility, host Jason Bordoff called on energy expert Ed Morse. Morse has been focused on energy policy and commodities since the 1970s and is currently the managing director and global head of commodity research at Citigroup.

He was a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for energy policy in both the Carter and Reagan administrations. 

Together, they discuss what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means moving forward for global oil supplies and prices at the pump.

Mar 15, 2022

An increased demand for energy following COVID-19 lockdowns created a severe energy supply crunch in Europe this winter. And now, decisions from corporate executives and government leaders to reduce or outright ban the purchase of Russian oil has forced energy prices even higher.  For a look at how energy markets can be leveraged to end Russia’s war in Ukraine and accelerate the transition to clean energy– all while reducing the risks of nuclear proliferation– host Jason Bordoff spoke with former US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

A key architect of the Paris Agreement and Iran nuclear deal, Moniz is currently the CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Before joining the Obama administration as Secretary of Energy, Dr. Moniz  served as Under Secretary of Energy and as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the Department of Energy. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Moniz was a Physics and Engineering Systems Systems Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he founded the MIT Energy Initiative.

In this conversation, Dr. Moniz sheds light on the energy security threats created by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, where things stand on the Iran deal and the future of energy innovation amid turbulent times for the markets.

Mar 8, 2022
Russia’s continued military aggression towards Ukraine has become a full-blown humanitarian crisis. At the same time, energy prices are soaring as markets react to Russian oil and gas disruptions, including President Biden’s announcement today to ban US imports of Russian oil.    The global energy ramifications of the conflict are profound. As a major oil and gas supplier – to Europe in particular – Russia has the power to weaponize its fossil fuels. And that has markets worried. 

For a deeper look at how the Russia-Ukraine conflict is impacting energy markets globally, host Jason Bordoff speaks with two foreign policy experts on energy: Angela Stent and Meghan O’Sullivan. 

Stent is senior adviser to the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and professor emerita of government and foreign service at Georgetown University. She’s published extensively on Russia-related foreign policy matters including “Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest.” 

O’Sullivan is the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and the director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University. She served as a national security advisor to President George W. Bush, and has written various books and articles on international affairs. 

Together, they discuss the complex energy security and resource management challenges during this time. 

Mar 1, 2022

Delegations from Kyiv and Moscow met in Belarus yesterday for the first round of talks which resulted in no resolution. At the same time Russian rockets battered Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, killing and wounding dozens, and leaving much uncertainty on what’s to come next.

Sanctions have been the primary tool by the West to deter Russian aggression and de-escalate the tenuous situation. In this episode host Jason Bordoff speaks with international sanctions experts Richard Nephew and Eddie Fishman about the global energy implications of these diplomacy challenges. 

Nephew recently rejoined the Center On Global Energy Policy as a senior research scholar. He’s the author of “The Art Of Sanctions,” and was most recently the US Deputy Special Envoy for Iran under the Biden administration where he played a key role in negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal.

Fishman is an adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. From 2015 to 2017, he worked at the US State Department and advised Secretary of State John Kerry on Europe and Eurasia, leading policy work around economic sanctions. 

Their discussion focuses on Russia’s global oil and gas exports, the near and long-term outcomes of economic sanctions on the Russian economy and the prospects for a revived Iran nuclear deal. 

Feb 22, 2022

Silicon Valley is giving greater attention to potential business opportunities in clean energy and climate. It’s also seeing enormous potential for growth when it comes to battery storage, geothermal, electric vehicles, solar, and more. 

But there are still questions about how the private sector can effectively fund these new technologies and ventures.

For a look into how to scale climate solutions with the speed that’s needed, host Jason Bordoff sits down with John Doerr, chairman of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. John is known for his early investments in clean technology and outside of the investment world, he’s a social entrepreneur with a track record for tackling climate. 

And now, he has laid out his plan in a new book: “Speed & Scale: An Action Plan For Solving Our Climate Crisis Now.”

In this conversation, John outlines his vision for transitioning the economy to clean energy and reflects on his legacy of green investments.

Feb 15, 2022
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia is intensifying and President Biden has warned that Putin could send troops into Ukraine any day.

NATO countries, including the US, are sending military equipment to Ukraine in preparation for the worst. But Germany is holding back. With gas prices at an all-time high, the future of Nord Stream 2 in limbo and the recent shutdown of nuclear plants: Can Europe be self-sufficient without Russian gas?  

In this week’s episode, Jason Bordoff is joined by Stephen Lacey, host of The Carbon Copy podcast, to look at how we got here. Turns out a lot of it has to do with the geopolitics of the energy transition. 

Together, they break down the tricky dynamics between Russia and the rest of Europe. Countries like Germany have invested vast amounts of money in renewables in the hopes of cutting dependence on imported fossil fuels, but how long will it take to get there? 

Check out the Foreign Affairs article on this topic that Jason co-authored with policy expert Meghan O’Sullivan.

Feb 8, 2022

In February 2021, Winter Storm Uri pushed the Texas power grid to its limit, leading to widespread blackouts across the state. At its peak, the storm left 4.5 million homes and businesses without power, causing an estimated 250 deaths and $90 billion in damages.

As extreme weather worsens, experts worry that the current regulatory system is not enough to address the vulnerabilities in Texas’s electric system, making future outages more common and destructive. 

This February, another devastating winter storm hit Texas. In this week's episode, host Bill Loveless sits down with Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas, Austin and an expert on Texas’ unique grid, to discuss what has (or hasn’t) changed since Winter Storm Uri.  

What has Texas taught us about building a reliable grid in the face of extreme weather?

Michael is also the chief technology officer of Energy Impact Partners, a $2 billion cleantech venture fund. 

His book, Power Trip: the Story of Energy, was published in 2019 with an award-winning six-part companion series that aired on PBS and other networks.

Feb 1, 2022

Elevated ocean temperatures are rising sea levels, inundating coastlines, sinking island nations, bleaching coral, and creating more dangerous hurricanes. But oceans also act as a buffer against global warming.

Climate scientists are increasingly turning their attention to oceans. For a deep dive into the science shaping our understanding of the Earth’s watery depths, host Bill Loveless spoke with Peter de Menocal, president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Peter is a marine geologist and paleoclimatologist by training, and the founding director of Columbia University’s Center For Climate And Life – a research accelerator that supports and trains the next generation of Earth scientists.

They 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.

Jan 25, 2022

The most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen seems – at least in theory – to be a good source of energy. But because of the high costs and other barriers associated with hydrogen power, the real story is more nuanced.

For a deep dive into how the world can harness the power of hydrogen and what role it will play in the geopolitics of the energy transition, host Bill Loveless spoke with Elizabeth Press

She’s the Director of Planning and Programme Support at the International Renewable Energy Agency, which just published a new report mapping out the future of hydrogen.

The report, titled “Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: The Hydrogen Factor,” digs into the evolution of hydrogen markets across the world, especially in developing countries. 

Read the full report here.

Jan 18, 2022

How can the US and Canada cooperate to meet international and domestic climate targets? 

To try and answer that question, host Jason Bordoff spoke with Catherine McKenna – the former Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and former Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change. 

McKenna, who recently joined the Center on Global Energy Policy as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow, was a lead negotiator of the Paris Agreement before introducing and successfully defending landmark legislation that established a carbon price across Canada. 

In this conversation, the pair discuss Canada’s decarbonization strategy, misogyny in climate politics, building US-Canadian partnerships in tackling climate change, and her hopes for this new, exciting stage in her career. 

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