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.
Oil Industry in Transition
It’s been quite a tumultuous year for the oil and gas industry, from a historic pandemic that sent oil prices crashing to growing pressure and urgency for companies to align their strategies with the world’s escalating climate ambitions. Occidental Petroleum is one of those companies, which has faced those challenges and more, including how to manage the high profile acquisition of Anadarko shortly before the pandemic struck.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by the person navigating Occidental Petroleum through this period, its CEO, Vicki Hollub, who has been CEO since 2016. Vicki recently said Oxy would become not just an oil company but a carbon management company, and Jason asked her about that and more when they spoke a few days ago in front of a live virtual audience at the annual Climate Science and Investment Conference hosted by the Columbia Climate School and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School.
During her 35-year career with Occidental, Vicki has held a variety of management and technical positions on three continents. Vicki started her career working on oil rigs in 1981, after graduating from the University of Alabama. She’s the most senior woman in the oil and gas sector and was the first woman to head a major American oil company.
Washington’s Carbon Pricing Bill: A Model for Other States?
For years, Washington State has been a battleground over carbon pricing, with advocates of the idea suffering one defeat after another. But that’s no longer the case now that the state legislature has passed a cap-and-trade bill that some supporters say will set the gold standard for addressing climate change in the United States.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Mike Stevens, the Washington State director of The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental organization and one of the key players in the passage of the new Climate Commitment Act.
The bill is designed to reduce Washington State’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 through increasingly stringent restrictions on the state’s 100 biggest sources of emissions. They include refiners, gas utilities and Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company.
If Governor Jay Inslee signs the bill as expected, Washington will become the second state after California with a comprehensive cap-and-trade system.
Once it takes effect in 2023, the Washington measure is forecast to raise $460 million in its first full year and at least $580 million annually by 2040, according to a report in the Seattle Times. That’s money that would be spent on a broad range of activities that include restoration of marine and fresh waters, forest health, renewable energy and public transportation. Some would be set aside to assist workers and low-income residents move to a clean-energy economy.
It’s those plans that prompt supporters of the measure to call it “cap and invest” rather than cap and trade.
Mike has headed the Washington State chapter of the organization since 2012. He brings more than 20 years of experience in conservation, sustainable agriculture and field science to his role as state director. Previously, he was a western sheep rancher and land manager.
Mike and Bill talked about the elements of this new law and how they would work, as well as the political dynamics that enabled success for its supporters after so many setbacks. They also delve into some of the features of this bill that distinguish it from other carbon proposals. Among them is a focus on environmental justice.
Biden’s Climate Summit: Key Takeaways and a Look Ahead
President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate, which brought together forty world leaders to galvanize efforts by the major economies around the world to tackle climate change, ended on Friday with the United States pledging to reduce its carbon emissions by at least half by 2030, along with pledges from many other countries to reduce emissions as well. Even with the Biden administration’s unequivocal message to the world that America is back when it comes to global climate leadership, numerous challenges lie ahead--from the thorny US-China relationship, to the limits of Biden’s own ability to drive emissions cuts at home with a deeply divided Congress. That’s the difficult task facing Secretary John Kerry and other global climate leaders in the months ahead as they work toward a November United Nations Climate Change Conference that aims to raise ambition among both governments and the private sector.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by David Sandalow to discuss last week’s climate summit and what lies ahead.
David Sandalow is the Inaugural Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and co-Director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He founded and directs the Center’s U.S.-China Program and is author of the Guide to Chinese Climate Policy. He has also been a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University. David has held many senior government climate posts, including acting Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Energy, Assistant Secretary of State and Senior Director on the National Security Council staff.
Diversity in Energy Finance
The importance of diversity in energy finance is gaining attention as more investors look closer at how companies are stacking up when it comes to the representation of women and minorities on their boards of directors and in their management ranks.
And it is not just the energy sector discovering this trend. It is taking place across corporations in the U.S. and around the world, a point illustrated in a new commentary from the Center on Global Energy Policy.
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless joins two of the authors of that commentary, Maria Jelescu, the CEO of Ardinall Investment Management, and Jully Meriño Carela, the director of the Women in Energy (WIE) initiative at CGEP.
Maria also co-chairs the WIE steering committee and serves on the center’s advisory board. She and Jully co-authored the commentary with Amy Myers Jaffe, the managing director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University’s Fletcher School and a co-chair of the WIE steering committee.
In the commentary, the authors make clear that the social aspects of ESG -- or environmental, social and governance considerations -- are front and center now as pressure mounts on energy companies to address the gender and racial makeup of their operations and recognize the value of diversity to them.
The commentary is called “The Social Aspects of ESG Investing: Insights on Diversity in Energy Finance.”
The discussion is particularly timely now amid a new shareholder proxy season, as investors press companies on ESG factors, and the Biden administration signals that closer government scrutiny of these matters may be in order.
Maria founded Ardinall Investment in 2017 as a firm focused on sustainability and climate change solutions. Previously, she spent 15 years at Goldman Sachs in various investment roles. Jully worked in labor and nonprofit fields before joining the Center on Global Energy Policy and taking charge of the Women in Energy initiative. Its mission is to elevate women in the energy sector at all career stages.
The commentary can be found here.
Charting the Path for U.S.-China Climate Cooperation
As the first meetings take place between top Biden administration officials and their Chinese counterparts, the U.S. and China are beginning to map out how they plan to engage on climate change. Given diplomatic tensions between the two countries on such issues as trade, technology, and human rights, questions remain about whether the countries can cooperate to address the climate crisis.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Kelly Sims Gallagher to discuss what both the U.S. and China are doing domestically on climate change, and whether and how their actions may play out as cooperation or competition between the two nations.
Kelly Sims Gallagher is Academic Dean and Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she directs the Climate Policy Lab and the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy. She served in the second term of the Obama Administration as a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as Senior China Advisor in the Special Envoy for Climate Change office at the U.S. State Department.
Gallagher is the author of Titans of the Climate (The MIT Press 2018) and The Global Diffusion of Clean Energy Technologies: Lessons from China (MIT Press 2014), and dozens of other articles and book chapters.
“Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford and Carter"
There’s much afoot in Washington these days over the prospect of new policies to address climate change and to put the U.S. on more solid footing when it comes to consuming and producing energy. We’ll know more as time goes on as to whether the Biden administration and Congress can reach the difficult agreements necessary to put new policies in place.
Yet, even as we contemplate the possibilities, it’s worth taking a look back at how the U.S. energy policy has evolved over the years, especially during the 1970s, when energy crises roiled energy markets and Washington enacted more energy laws than at any other time.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless speaks with Jay Hakes, the author of a new book that looks closely at that era. It’s called “Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford and Carter, and Hard Choices in the 1970s.”
Jay is a former head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and former director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.
In his book, Jay describes events of the 1970s like the long gasoline lines amid the Arab oil embargo and the fall of the shah of Iran, the fuel shortages that closed schools and factories, the military and political tensions in the oil-rich Middle East and the sky-high inflation that wreaked havoc in the nation’s economy.
More to the point, he writes deeply about the perceptions of these events by the men who occupied the White House then, their determination to end U.S. reliance on foreign oil, and their successes and failures to persuade Congress to go along with their energy agendas.
In short, Jay tells us that the 1970s hold a pre-eminent place in the U.S. when it comes to energy, and he reminds us, as well, that actions then set the foundation for today’s energy production and consumption trends.
A must add to you Energy podcast playlist
If you are interested in current issues relating to energy and climate, this is a must add to your podcast playlist. The caliber of guests is outstanding, with intelligent discussions that span a wide array of global topics. I look foward to listening to the discussion every week. Did I mention Bill and Jason are great hosts!