Climate, Environment, Podcast

On climate, Denmark looks past its size to address crisis

It’s a small country with big ambitions when it comes to climate change. The new government in Denmark plans to overhaul entirely the way it conducts climate policy, with a goal of reducing emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. And it says it’s doing so based on what science tells us, not what political expedience would suggest. In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, I talk with Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities since June. Minister Jørgensen was elected to the Danish parliament in 2013 and served as minister for food and agriculture between 2013 and 2015. He was also a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2013, and has taught at universities in Denmark, France and the United States. Now, he’s in charge of an ambitious climate policy put in place…

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Climate, Podcast

Absent national policy, U.S. climate action takes many forms

Leaders from around the world will gather in San Francisco Sept. 12-14 to celebrate the achievements of states, regions, cities, corporations and others at the sub-national level with respect to climate action. Organizers of the Global Climate Action Summit say the meeting will also serve as a launch pad for deeper commitments to put the world on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realize the historic Paris agreement – even as the U.S. government under the Trump administration takes a different course. On this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, I talk to Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the United States. WWF is one of the partners in the Global Climate Action Summit, along with other groups including C40Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ceres and the United Nations Foundation. Among the topics we touched on are…

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Climate, Energy

Energy Journalists Take Deep Dive to Learn More

The second Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative took place in New York in June with 20 up-and-coming energy journalists from the U.S. and five other countries. Among the media outlets represented were Argus, Bloomberg, Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call, E&E News, Financial Times, Greentech Media, Quartz, S&P Global, Thomson Reuters and the Washington Examiner. I’m pleased to direct this innovative program at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy, where reporters can take time off the beat to learn more about markets, policy, science and other topics associated with today’s energy and environmental issues. It’s a rare opportunity for journalists in today’s fast-paced world of reporting. Thanks to CGEP Founding Director Jason Bordoff for hosting this innovative program and to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and CGEP Advisory Board Members Jim Rogers and Reid Hoffman for their generous financial support. It’s a…

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Blog, Climate

A National Voice for Republicans on Climate Change

In what may seem like a politically senseless move, a young Republican congressman is trying to rally support in the U.S. House of Representatives for comprehensive actions addressing climate change, including possibly a tax on carbon emissions. “I’m not ready to come out yet and endorse any specific ideas, because ideally this would happen organically, and members would together think it through and build something by consensus,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo said in an interview with me on the “Columbia Energy Exchange” podcast. “But we are approaching the time when Republicans, in conjunction with our Democratic colleagues, have to do more than simply oppose bad policy. We have to proffer good policy, and that’s what we’re trying to build to.” At a time when many members of his party still deny the occurrence of climate change and humans’ contributions to the…

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Article, Climate, coal

A long-shot opportunity for coal and carbon capture?

By Bill Loveless New efforts to promote technology to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and bury them underground or use them to enhance oil production are getting more attention in Washington these days thanks to the Trump administration and its commitment to save the U.S. coal industry. Now, the credit-rating agency Moody’s is cautiously predicting that the technology may be the answer for the declining industry in the long run, though daunting obstacles remain. One thing that could jump start interest in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) would be a spike in the cost of natural gas, whose abundance in the U.S. and low price in recent years have persuaded electric utilities to rely more on gas to fuel their power plants and less on coal, according to a new report from Moody’s. On that score, the agency…

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Climate, Podcast, Policy

Columbia Energy Exchange: Senator Maria Cantwell

With the UN climate summit underway in Germany, the latest developments in climate change are receiving fresh attention, including the extent to which global warming contributes to the severity of hurricanes, wild fires and other natural disasters. Heaven knows, we’ve had plenty of reminders recently with the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and widespread fires in western states. In this new episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, I talk to Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, about a new report she and Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, just received from the U.S. Government Accountability Office tabulating the astonishing costs of natural disasters in this country, costs which will only escalate sharply if current patterns persist. Tune in, and let me know what you think. And, if you haven’t done so yet, subscribe to this podcast from the Columbia University…

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Article, Climate, Sustainable Energy

On climate, candy maker Mars not so quiet

For a company famously tight-lipped when it comes to most of its business operations, Mars is incredibly outspoken regarding matters like climate change. That’s become even more evident as the company launches a $1 billion plan called “Sustainable in a Generation” which expands on goals set previously by the maker of M&M’s, Snickers and other popular food brands. “Mars has been in business for four generations and intends to be for the next four generations,” Grant Reid, the CEO of the family-owned business with $33 billion in annual net sales and operations in more than 80 countries, said Sept. 5 in announcing the new initiative. But he added, “The only way that will happen is if we do things differently to ensure that the planet is healthy and all people in our extended supply chains have the opportunity to thrive.”…

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Article, Climate, Electricity

Coal comeback unlikely after Paris climate pact withdrawal: utility CEO

From USA TODAY President Trump once again promised to revive the U.S. coal industry when he announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. But that reversal seems as unlikely as ever as electric power producers, the biggest consumers of coal in the U.S., continue to shift to natural gas and renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. In 2016, natural gas became the leading fuel for U.S. electricity generation for the first time, responsible for 33.8% of the output, compared with 30.4% for coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Nick Akins, the CEO of American Electric Power, one of the largest utilities in the U.S., says the preference for gas, renewables and energy efficiency, will only grow in response to increasing demands from shareholders and customers for cleaner energy, regardless of changes in…

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Blog, Climate, Sustainable Energy

With void in Washington, energy policy shifts to states

As the late U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local,” and that pertains to energy as much as any issue. Take the Metro section in the May 17 Washington Post where three stories remind us that battles over climate change are increasingly shifting from Washington to the states and local communities, as the Trump administration puts the kibosh on Obama-era environmental policies. The lead story reports that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has ordered state officials to develop regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants and encourage solar and other clean energy sources. McAuliffe wants the plan, which is consistent with the Obama strategy for climate change and energy, implemented by the time he leaves office in January, a tall order given the resistance he will face from the Republican-controlled legislature in Virginia. Nonetheless, his bid…

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Climate, Oil, Podcast, Policy, Shale

Columbia Energy Exchange: Chevron CEO John Watson

Host Bill Loveless talks with John Watson, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Chevron Corporation, the second largest integrated oil company in the United States. Bill and John spoke in Washington, D.C. about topics including: the outlook for oil and natural gas markets; climate change and the role of energy companies; the breakdown of public discourse on energy issues; and the Trump Administration, free trade, tax reform and energy policy. Listen.

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