Welcome to the Harvard Environmental Economics Program's Policy Cast. "Environmental Insights" is a podcast at the intersection of economics and environmental policy. HEEP Director, Robert Stavins, serves as host as he interviews people working at the interface between economics and the environment. People working in government, the private sector (and NGOs), and academia will serve as guests as they share their unique insight on the current state of affairs in environmental economics.
The podcast is intended to inform listeners about important issues relating to an economic perspective on developments in environmental policy, including – but not limited to – the design and implementation of market-based approaches to environmental protection.
Robert Pindyck, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Professor of Economics and Finance at MIT's Sloan School of Management, presented his case for additional research on climate adaptation and the social costs of climate change. Pindyck, a fellow of the Econometric Society, past president and fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, and an Associate Scholar of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, is an energy economist who has spent the past decade working on issues related to climate change and climate change policy. Author of the forthcoming book, “Climate Future. Averting and Adapting to Climate Change,” Pindyck said the book speaks to the role of uncertainty in the context of climate policy.
Sheila Olmstead, professor of public affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, shared her thoughts on US water policy and environmental justice in the newest episode of “Environmental Insights." Olmstead, who was formerly a senior fellow at Resources for the Future, was recently named a member of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She earned her PhD in Public Policy from Harvard and has focused much of her academic and professional work on issues relating to water resources management. She served a year as a Senior Staff Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisors, and currently serves as editor of the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
Suzi Kerr, the chief economist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and founder of the MOTU Economic and Public Policy Research think tank in her home country of New Zealand, shared her perspectives on international climate change policy in the newest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,."
Kerr was involved in the early design of New Zealand’s successful emissions trading system (ETS), which began in 2008 and is similar to California’s cap-and-trade system.
A transcript is available here.
Stanford University Professor Lawrence Goulder analyzed some of the policy options available to government for combatting climate change in the newest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program. Goulder, who graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in philosophy in 1973 and from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in economics in 1982, served on the faculty of the Department of Economics at Harvard before returning to Stanford's economics department in 1989. His research spans a range of environmental issues, including green tax reform, the design of environmental tax systems, climate change policy, and comprehensive wealth measurement. He is co-author of “Confronting the Climate Challenge: US Policy Options,” published by Columbia University Press in 2018.
A transcript of the podcast interview is available here.
John Holdren, former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, expressed his optimism regarding the Biden Administration’s approach to climate policy. Holdren, who is Research Professor and until recently served as Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, spent eight years in the Obama Administration, the longest tenure for a chief White House science advisor in the history of the position.
A transcript of the interview is available here.
Gernot Wagner, Clinical Associate Professor at New York University and former economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, shared his thoughts on the impact of politics on climate policy. Wagner, whose career also includes time spent as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and a journalist at the Financial Times, brings to the topic a rich and varied set of perspectives gained through his years of experience in academia, the NGO world, and private industry. Listen to the interview here.
A transcript of the interview is available here.
John Graham, dean emeritus and professor at the Paul O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB), offered his thoughts on regulatory impact analysis, federal energy policy, domestic climate policy, and electric vehicles. Graham, who earlier in his career founded the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis while serving on the faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and then spent five years heading OIRA in the George W. Bush Administration, spoke of his early experiences in the White House, where he and his team had to make the case to the president to increase the stringency of federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards at a time when the vice president was opposed.
Jody Freeman, the Archibald Cox Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and founder of the School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program, offered both a sharp rebuke of the Trump Administration’s climate policies and a hopeful outlook for the Biden Administration’s clean energy agenda. Freeman, who was closely involved in the Massachusetts vs. EPA court case that eventually led – via a U.S. Supreme Court case – to EPA’s endangerment finding, pulled no punches when discussing the prior administration’s impact on environmental and climate policy.
William Hogan, the Raymond Plank Research Professor of Global Energy Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Harvard Electricity Policy Group, outlined the causes and consequences of the recent Texas energy crisis in the latest episode of the "Environmental Insights" Podcast.
Daniel Esty, the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University and author of the new book, “Values at Work: Sustainable Investing and ESG Reporting,” expressed his optimism for the prospects for climate policy in the Biden Administration. Esty, who served in a variety of senior roles at the US Environmental Protection Agency where he helped negotiate the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted he was “disturbed” by the ease with which the Trump Administration rolled back environmental policies, but is heartened by the change of leadership in Washington and the course that the new administration is charting. Listen to the interview here.
Richard Revesz, the Lawrence King Professor of Law at New York University and co-founder of the Institute for Policy Integrity, shared his thoughts on how the transition to a new presidential administration later this month will impact US environmental and climate change policy in the latest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,” a podcast produced by the Harvard Environmental Economics Program. Listen to the interview here.
Spencer Dale, group chief economist at BP, expressed his hopes for a strategic “energy transition’’ within the oil-and-gas industry. In his current role at BP, Spencer Dale manages the company’s global economics team, and is responsible for advising the board and executive team on economic drivers and trends in global energy. He previously served in a number of roles at the Bank of England, including as executive director for financial stability, a member of the Financial Policy Committee, and ultimately as chief economist.
Even with a new presidential administration in place in January, Coral Davenport, climate desk reporter at the New York Times, says it will still be a heavy lift to pass any meaningful legislation on climate change anytime soon. Davenport shared her thoughts on how climate policy – both domestically and internationally – may be affected by the outcome of this month’s U.S. elections
With the 2020 US presidential and congressional election quickly approaching, Lisa Friedman, climate desk reporter at the New York Times, shared her thoughts on how climate policy could be affected by the election results. Friedman, who joined the Times in 2017 after spending 12 years at Climatewire and E&E News, expressed her delight with the attention that climate change policy is receiving this election year, saying that it is “undeniably bigger and more substantive than it has ever been before,” noting, for example, the seven hours of climate change Town Hall discussions hosted by CNN.
David Victor, a professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego, expressed his optimism for European leadership on climate policy. Victor, who serves as co-chair of the Brookings Institution Initiative on Energy and Climate and served as a coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), voiced his concern about the uncertainty surrounding climate policy at a time when countries are having to direct their resources into large-scale economic stimulus programs to help soften the blow from the coronavirus pandemic. And many questions remain, he said, about public confidence in federal leadership and in the capacity for governments to act effectively right now.
Vicky Bailey, who has held high-level national and international corporate, executive, and government positions in the energy sector for more than 30 years, shared her thoughts on energy policy, climate change policy, the impacts of COVID-19, and systemic racial injustice in the newest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program."
Bailey, who served as a commissioner on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, president and CEO of PSI Energy Inc., and Assistant Secretary of Energy in the George W. Bush Administration, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way people work and live, and thereby having profound effects on energy demand.
Bailey also spoke of the national turmoil and introspection caused by the tragic death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police brutality in May in a violent confrontation that was taped and later viewed by millions of Americans.
David Hone, Chief Climate Change Advisor at Shell International, provided his insights into changes in the oil and gas industry, international dimensions of climate change policy, and the prospects for emissions trading. Hone, who has a degree in chemical engineering, has worked in the oil and gas industry for more than 40 years, the past 20 focusing almost exclusively on the challenge of addressing global climate change. He concurrently serves as a board member of both the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). In the podcast, Hone spoke of the efforts oil and gas companies are taking to increase investments in alternative fuels in order to reduce global emissions.
Kelley Kizzier, who served as a lead European Union (EU) negotiator in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), expressed her hopes for progress on international climate policy in the newest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program."
Kizzier has worked on EU and international climate issues for many years, playing a major role in negotiating issues related to international cooperation through carbon markets, transparency and accounting under the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, and ultimately, the Paris Agreement. She recently served as the UNFCCC co-chair for the UN climate negotiations regarding Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and now serves as Associate Vice President for International Climate at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Richard Schmalensee, the Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management, and Professor of Economics Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reflects on his many years working on environmental policy in public service and academia.
Schmalensee’s research and teaching have spanned several areas of application of industrial organization, including antitrust, regulatory, energy and environmental policies. He served as Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management for 10 years and director of the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research for 12 years. He also served as a member of the White House Counsel of Economic Advisors from 1989-1991, at a time when the George H.W. Bush Administration developed and then worked with Congress to pass the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
Following his tenure at the White House, Schmalensee served on the Environmental Economics Advisory Committee at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and later on the National Climate Assessment Development & Advisory Committee.
Sue Biniaz, former lead climate negotiator for the United States, shared her thoughts on the postponement of COP-26, and on the possible re-engagement of the U.S. in the international effort to address climate change.
Biniaz is currently a lecturer at Yale Law School, where she teaches a course on negotiating international agreements. Prior to that, she served for more than 30 years in the State Department's Legal Adviser's Office, where she was a Deputy Legal Adviser, as well as the lead climate lawyer and a lead climate negotiator from 1989 until early 2017.
Biniaz departed the State Department prior to COP-25 in Madrid last December, a meeting that ended without a resolution to Article 6, the section of the Paris Agreement that allows for emissions trading.
Rebecca Henderson, the John and Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard University, shared her perspectives on how large organizations are changing in response to the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Columbia University Professor Scott Barrett assessed the massive global efforts underway to address COVID-19 and the potential impacts of the pandemic on our lives in the future in a special episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,” a podcast produced by the Harvard Environmental Economics Program. Listen to the interview here.
Barrett, the Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) & Earth Institute at Columbia University, has focused his research on transnational, regional, and global environmental issues that can only be addressed by international cooperation. His research touches on issues relating to climate change, infectious diseases, international environmental agreements, global public goods, trade and environment, ecosystems, environment and development, and oceans.
The international global effort to contain COVID-19 will be a “persistent challenge,” Barrett remarked in the interview, and will result in “fundamental changes in society.”
Harvard Kennedy School Professor of the Practice Joseph Aldy reflected on his service in the Obama Administration and on current challenges facing lawmakers as they work on climate change policy in the latest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,” a podcast produced by the Harvard Environmental Economics Program. Listen to the interview here.
Aldy worked in the White House during the first two years of the Obama Administration, helping direct the administration’s climate change policy while serving as Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Environment. In the podcast he remarked that, “the most challenging aspect of that job is recognizing that your to-do list at 7:30 or 8 in the morning may get wiped out by something unexpected that happens that day.” As an example, he mentioned the devastating Deep Water Horizon oil spill in April 2010, which resulted in new government regulations designed to prevent such catastrophes in future years.
David Keith, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, discussed his groundbreaking research and policy work in the field of solar geoengineering in the newest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.”
Keith is renowned for his work at the intersection of climate science, energy technology, and public policy over the past 25 years. A Canadian native, Keith is faculty director of Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program, a Harvard-wide interfaculty research initiative which aims to further critical research on both the science and governance of solar geoengineering. While best known for his work on geoengineering, Keith has also conducted extensive research on carbon capture and storage, and is the founder of Carbon Engineering, a company which develops technologies for direct air capture.
Jos Delbeke is Professor at the European University Institute in Florence and at the KU Leuven in Belgium. He served as Director-General of the European Commission’s DG Climate Action from 2010 until 2018, and was one of the primary architects of the European Union’s climate and energy targets for 2020 and 2030. He also served for several years as the European Commission’s chief negotiator at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties. An economist, Delbeke has long advocated for the use of market-based instruments and cost-benefit analysis to address environmental challenges. In this episode of Environmental Insights, Delbeke recounts how carbon pricing has evolved over time and voices his optimism for further international efforts to combat climate change.
Paul Watkinson is chief negotiator and head of the climate negotiations team for the French ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. He was a member of the French inter-ministerial team that prepared and ran the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris (COP21), with responsibility for coordinating the negotiation of the Paris Agreement. He has long experience in the climate field and has been a member of the French delegation to the UN climate talks since 2000, directing the delegation for much of that time. He was an advisor to the Moroccan minister of the environment who chaired the 2001 Marrakech conference that successively adopted the rule-book for the Kyoto Protocol. He chaired the European Union’s working party on climate change under the French EU Presidency in 2008. And he was one of the EU’s lead negotiators at the conferences of Copenhagen, Cancún, Durban, Doha and Warsaw, with particular responsibility for issues around finance, adaptation and the way in which climate policies interact with trade and impact third parties. He has dual French and British nationality and has lived, studied and worked in both countries.
A full transcript of the Environmental Insights Podcast interview with Paul Watkinson is available here.
Andrei Marcu, founder and executive director of the European Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition, provided his insights on the UN Climate Change conference taking place in Madrid this week in the newest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,” a podcast produced by the Harvard Environmental Economics Program. Listen to the interview here.
Hosted by Robert N. Stavins, A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy and Economic Development at Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, Environmental Insights is intended to promote public discourse on important issues at the intersection of economics and environmental policy.
Lord Stern of Brentford, CH, Kt, FBA, FRS
Lord Stern is the IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and Head of the India Observatory at the London School of Economics. He was President of the Royal Economic Society (2018-19) and President of the British Academy (2013- 2017). He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (June 2014). He has held academic appointments in the UK at Oxford, Warwick, and the LSE, and abroad at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Ecole Polytechnique, and the Collège de France in Paris, the Indian Statistical Institute in Bangalore and Delhi, and the Peopleʼs University of China in Beijing. He was Chief Economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1994-1999, and Chief Economist and Senior Vice President at the World Bank, 2000-2003. He was knighted in 2004, made a cross-bench life peer in 2007, and appointed Companion of Honour in 2017 for services to economics, international relations, and tackling climate change.
Lord Stern was Second Permanent Secretary to Her Majesty’s Treasury from 2003-2005; Director of Policy and Research for the Prime Minister’s Commission for Africa from 2004-2005; Head of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, published in 2006; and Head of the Government Economic Service from 2003-2007.
He has published more than 15 books and 100 articles. His most recent book is “Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change” (MIT Press, 2015). His next book “How Lives Change: Palanpur, India and Development Economics” (with Himanshu, JNU, and Peter Lanjouw, Free University of Amsterdam) published by Oxford University Press in 2018.
The inaugural guest for the podcast is Gina McCarthy, professor of the practice of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, director of the Center for Climate Health, and the Global Environment, and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The interview with Gina touches on her many years of experience in community health, state government, and, of course, her years at EPA, where she focused on domestic initiatives relating to public health and the environment and work in the international domain. She also talks about her relatively new role as director of the Center for Climate Health, and the Global Environment at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.