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To slow climate change, we need to transform our homes, buildings, cars, and economy quickly. "The Big Switch" explains how to rebuild the energy systems all around us. Dr. Melissa Lott of Columbia University brings together historical examples, current events, and incisive analysis to give listeners a deep understanding of the solutions to climate change.
 
The energy world is in the midst of its greatest upheaval in a generation, redefining long-held geopolitical relationships with profound impacts on the global economy and environment. How do we balance the priorities of economic growth, energy security, and environmental sustainability? The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University is a leading resource for research and discussion that gets beyond the polarization that threatens to overwhelm the energy debate. In each episode of ...
 
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Ninety-five. That’s the number of times we've mentioned hydrogen on The Big Switch over the past 18 episodes. This week, we’re taking a step back to ask what IS hydrogen? And how can it help decarbonize the economy? It turns out, there’s a whole rainbow of hydrogen fuel – gray hydrogen, blue hydrogen, even pink hydrogen. But the kind of hydrogen th…
 
Hydrogen could be essential for the zero-carbon economy, especially for cleaning up concrete, steel, and chemicals. It’s also a promising fuel source for transportation and electricity that's attracted hundreds of billions of dollars in global investment. But there’s a problem. Every year, the world produces millions of tons of hydrogen through a d…
 
Steel goes into pretty much everything around us – from buildings and bridges to the furniture in our homes. And decarbonizing the steel industry is essential because we need steel to decarbonize the world. Think about it. Solar panels, electric vehicles, even our power grid; steel goes into everything we need to fight climate change. But there’s a…
 
St. James Parish, Louisiana sits in the middle of an 85-mile corridor along the Mississippi river that’s home to more than 150 petrochemical plants. This concentration of petrochemical facilities has taken a toll on the health of nearby communities – a toll that falls disproportionately on Black communities. Cancer risk in some parts of this corrid…
 
Petrochemicals. You might not have heard of them, but you certainly use them every day. These chemicals, made from oil, are in almost everything – plastics, medicines, clothes, toothpaste, even the insulation in your home. So how can we decarbonize an industry that makes such a pervasive product? This week, we spoke with climate solutions expert De…
 
Things have shifted dramatically since we aired our last episode. There’s now a crisis in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian oil and gas. This is all on top of record demand for petroleum products and electricity as the world emerges from lockdowns. So this week, we’re bring you an episode about energy security from the other podcast that we have her…
 
This week: A love story about concrete. Melissa and Rebecca Dell, an industrial decarbonization expert, break down our relationship with concrete, and why it’s so dysfunctional. The problem? Making concrete – especially its key ingredient, cement – is toxic to the climate. Only two countries in the world – the US and China – produce more greenhouse…
 
We have something different today: A crossover between The Big Switch and The Carbon Copy. If you like this episode, go over to The Carbon Copy and hit subscribe. When Covid disrupted the economy and shifted energy use, it sharply brought down economy-wide carbon emissions. Many wondered: would the pandemic-related changes to our energy system help…
 
Aviation is a notoriously difficult sector to decarbonize. So as Melissa plans a family trip, she wrestles with her options. Which flights emit the least carbon? How well do offsets work? Should we even be flying at all? Melissa and colleague Kirsten Smith task producer Daniel Woldorff with calling up airlines to look for answers. Engineer Alejandr…
 
When one of the biggest ships in the world got stuck in the Suez Canal, it threw a giant wrench into international supply chains. It exacerbated shortages of everything from semiconductors to snuggies. Journalist Maria Gallucci explains how this overlooked sector plays an essential part in supplying – and decarbonizing – the global economy. Lawyer …
 
Heavy trucks emit an outsize share of greenhouse gasses and toxic pollutants. But we rely on them for nearly everything we buy. What will it take to decarbonize them? We hear from staff at the Community Center for Action & Environmental Justice. They’re demanding clean air in “America’s shopping cart,” a polluted region dominated by warehouses and …
 
Electric autonomous vehicles shuttle us to high-tech mass transit hubs. Our fare system is contactless. We’ve already paid via a customized, equitable subscription model. All the trains and buses are on time. And we don’t have to wait in traffic. This is a world in which we can hop in a car to get somewhere, but we don’t have to. In this episode, t…
 
In the first five episodes of this show, we talked about cleaning up our electricity system—the power grid. In upcoming episodes, we're going to explain how to make that Big Switch in every other sector of the economy—everything from cars and heavy trucking to industrial heat and buildings. It's a lot to cover, and so we need a roadmap. In this epi…
 
We have a whole year of episodes coming up. In the first five episodes of The Big Switch, we talked about cleaning up our electricity system--the power grid. Next, host Dr. Melissa Lott will talk with experts about how to transform every other sector of the economy, including transportation, industry and buildings. To slow climate change, we need t…
 
In episode 2, we explored how to build a championship zero-carbon “team” on the grid. We could have the best players in the world — rooftop solar, batteries, net metering, demand response, high-voltage transmission, and so many others — but if the rules prevent these technologies from playing ball, then we won’t be able to decarbonize fast enough. …
 
Matching electricity supply and demand is a high-wire balancing act. As we add more solar, wind and batteries, and shut down thermal generation, it shifts the balance. New kinds of distributed resources can help to balance things out -- but they also make grid management more complex. In our fourth episode of season 1, Dr. Melissa Lott explores the…
 
If the grid system is the backbone of a low-carbon economy, then transmission lines are the nervous system. We need a dramatic build-out of the transmission system to connect renewable energy to the places that need it, while managing a wider range of local resources. How do we build it quickly, cheaply, and in a respectful way? In our third episod…
 
Building a low-carbon grid is like building a sports team with star players and supporting players. Or, more accurately, it’s like re-building a sports team, where you have to go from underdogs to world champs. First, you have to retire the under-performers like coal. Then, you have to grow your star players — namely wind and solar. Finally, you ha…
 
The electric grid is the vast machine that powers everything around us. It’s also the part of the energy system where we're seeing the most dramatic changes as we address climate change. So what are the stakes, solutions and tradeoffs as we move to a net-zero energy system? In our first episode of season 1, Dr. Melissa Lott explores the intricacies…
 
Welcome to our first season of "The Big Switch." It's a five-part series that explores how the power grid works, how it's changing, and how those changes can benefit society. Your host is Dr. Melissa Lott of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy. To slow climate change, we need to transform our buildings, our homes, cars, and the eco…
 
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, CGEP celebrated its 5th anniversary and hosted the annual Columbia Global Energy Summit. The half-day forum included keynote remarks, interviews and plenary conversations with senior energy sector leaders focused on key issues and questions at the intersection of energy policy, financial markets, the environment and geo…
 
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, CGEP celebrated its 5th anniversary and hosted the annual Columbia Global Energy Summit. The half-day forum included keynote remarks, interviews and plenary conversations with senior energy sector leaders focused on key issues and questions at the intersection of energy policy, financial markets, the environment and geo…
 
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, CGEP celebrated its 5th anniversary and hosted the annual Columbia Global Energy Summit. The half-day forum included keynote remarks, interviews and plenary conversations with senior energy sector leaders focused on key issues and questions at the intersection of energy policy, financial markets, the environment and geo…
 
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, CGEP celebrated its 5th anniversary and hosted the annual Columbia Global Energy Summit. The half-day forum included keynote remarks, interviews and plenary conversations with senior energy sector leaders focused on key issues and questions at the intersection of energy policy, financial markets, the environment and geo…
 
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, CGEP celebrated its 5th anniversary and hosted the annual Columbia Global Energy Summit. The half-day forum included keynote remarks, interviews and plenary conversations with senior energy sector leaders focused on key issues and questions at the intersection of energy policy, financial markets, the environment and geo…
 
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, CGEP celebrated its 5th anniversary and hosted the annual Columbia Global Energy Summit. The half-day forum included keynote remarks, interviews and plenary conversations with senior energy sector leaders focused on key issues and questions at the intersection of energy policy, financial markets, the environment and geo…
 
CGEP hosted a book talk with Dr. Johannes Urpelainen, the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and CGEP Fellow, on his new book, Renewables: The Politics of a Global Energy Transition where he and co-author Michaël Aklin offer a comprehensive politic…
 
Over the coming decades, digital technologies are set to make energy systems around the world more connected, intelligent, efficient, reliable, and sustainable. But getting everything right will not be easy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently completed its first ever analysis to comprehensively depict how digitalization is reshaping the…
 
Solar energy, once a niche application for a limited market, has become the cheapest and fastest-growing power source on earth. What’s more, its potential is nearly limitless—every hour the sun beams down more energy than the world uses in a year. But in his new book, Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Save the Planet (MIT Pres…
 
In the wake of President Trump’s announcement that he intends to have the United States leave the Paris climate accord, many American states, cities, and corporations declared: “We are still in.” Beyond the rhetoric, however, how strongly committed is America’s corporate sector to taking steps to reduce climate change? Can corporate actions on clim…
 
No region remains more important for the global energy scene than the Middle East, and the influence of the Gulf Arab States remains extremely high. In order to understand current trends in energy markets, and their implications for economies and geopolitical relations of the Gulf states, the Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a discussion with …
 
The global energy landscape is changing. What are the key factors influencing the shift in the energy mix and the pace at which it is changing? The Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a presentation of the BP Energy Outlook - 2018 Edition with Group Chief Economist Spencer Dale. The BP Energy Outlook outlines BP’s views of future global energy ma…
 
Like many nations around the world grappling with climate change and threats to the natural environment and public health, Canada is taking action to address these challenges, including ratification of the Paris Agreement and a pledge to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by thirty percent in 2030 from 2005 levels. Prime Minister Justin Trude…
 
On February 13, 2018, the Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a presentation by John Conti, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, of the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2018. The Annual Energy Outlook provides modeled projections of domestic energy markets through 2050, and includes cases with different assumptions of ma…
 
In a world struggling to respond adequately to the challenge of climate change, how should we think about the implications of efforts to alleviate poverty by facilitating energy development that enables economic opportunity – and what are the implications of success on climate change? A better understanding of the implications for climate change of…
 
The Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a fireside chat with Commissioner Neil Chatterjee of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Commissioner Chatterjee discussed a number of pertinent issues including power markets and efforts to promote grid reliability and resilience, natural gas markets, and infrastructure development, among others. CGE…
 
Center on Global Energy Policy launched The Fracking Debate, the upcoming book in the Center on Global Energy Policy Series published by the Columbia University Press. In his book, author Daniel Raimi, Senior Research Associate at Resources for the Future, Lecturer at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and fac…
 
Economic sanctions are a key part of international affairs, but they have been widely criticized for decades as being too inefficient, unwieldy, inconsistent with the interests of business and industry, and brutally inconsiderate of humanitarian concerns. At the center is a question of whether and how to do sanctions right. The Center on Global Ene…
 
Recent events in Venezuela – from missed debt payments and calls for debt restructuring to the arrest of Citgo officials and the appointment of a general with no experience in the oil business as oil minister and head of state oil company PdVSA – signal an acceleration of the country’s crisis. Although President Nicolas Maduro consolidated his poli…
 
Under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese government will provide hundreds of billions of dollars for thousands of projects across Asia, Europe and Africa. This will include funding for power plants, transmission lines and other energy infrastructure. The Chinese government has emphasized “green development” as an important feature of the Bel…
 
The Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a discussion on the outlook for offshore energy production in a low oil price environment. Jason Bordoff, CGEP Founding Director, moderated the discussion and we were pleased to be joined by: Lars Christian Bacher, Executive Vice President, Development & Production International, Statoil Tommy Beaudreau, Pa…
 
China and the US are the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. In October, President Xi opened China’s 19th Party Congress declaring that China is “taking a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change.” As President Trump arrives in Beijing for bilateral meetings, please join us please join us in exploring questions su…
 
On the eve of the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP-23) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (November 6 to 17, in Bonn), CGEP hosted a panel discussion on the future of international climate negotiations. What are the stakes for the United States and other parties at COP-23 and in the broader UNFCCC negotiations? Can the other par…
 
On October 30, 2017, the Center on Global Energy Policy was honored to welcome Chairman Liu Zhenya, Chairman of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization and Chairman of the China Electricity Council, and the former CEO of the world’s largest electric utility, China State Grid, to deliver keynote remarks on global e…
 
President Trump announced he will no longer certify the Iran nuclear agreement is in the U.S. national interest. This decision will have consequences for the United States in the Middle East as well as potentially beyond. CGEP hosted an expert panel to discuss the decision and its implications, its impact on the Iran nuclear agreement itself, how C…
 
The Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a presentation and discussion of the IEA's Renewable Energy Market Report 2017 with Heymi Bahar, Renewable Energy Markets Analyst at the International Energy Agency and Project Manager of the Report. This report examines how renewable energy in the power, heat and transportation sectors will evolve over 201…
 
CGEP was honored to welcome Ibrahim Baylan, Swedish Minister for Policy Coordination and Energy, as guest speaker at our Fall 2017 Energy Leaders Forum. Minister Baylan offered keynote remarks focused on Swedish and international energy and climate change initiatives. Following his remarks, Minister Baylan had a one-on-one conversation with David S…
 
CGEP hosted a presentation and discussion of IEA's World Energy Investment 2017 report with Laszlo Varro, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency. CGEP Fellow, John MacWilliams moderated the discussion following Mr. Varro's presentation. World Energy Investment 2017 is the second annual IEA benchmark analysis of energy investment. It hig…
 
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