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Climate Change

Celebrating Earth Day at 50

Fifty years ago this week, 20 million Americans came together to march for the planet, demanding action to clean up America’s waterways and air and protect public health. Their efforts launched the first Earth Day and the modern environmental movement. To celebrate this milestone, CGEP is releasing a special double episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast to reflect back on the U.S. environmental movement in 1970, examine the movement’s successes in reducing pollution, and find lessons for addressing climate change. This page features research, videos and events from CGEP scholars and researchers examining policies, technologies and economic incentives aimed at addressing climate change. Connect with us on social media to celebrate Earth Day and be part of the solution as we look forward to the next 50.


Earth Day at 50: Reflections from Gina McCarthy: Host Jason Bordoff talks to former EPA Administrator and NRDC president and chief executive officer Gina McCarthy on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Earth Day at 50: Reflections from William Reilly: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by Bill Reilly, who has a remarkable career in the environmental movement.

Building Coalitions for a Clean Energy Recovery: Host Bill Loveless is joined by Dr. Ernest Moniz, former Sectretary of Energy, to talk about the role that energy sectors can play in reinvigorating the U.S. economy.

Greener Stimulus? Economic Recovery and Climate Policy: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Joe Aldy to gain insight into design of stimulus and how climate policy could factor into it.

Carbon Solutions for Climate Change: Host Bill Loveless catches up with Julio Friedmann, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy and the director of the center’s Carbon Management Research Initiative.


Earth Day at 50 Reveals What’s Missing in Climate Change Fight: In Foreign Policy, CGEP Founding Director Jason Bordoff reflects on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

How to Broaden the Coalition Against Climate Change: In Foreign Policy, CGEP Founding Director Jason Bordoff argues that while the dramatic increase in urgency and attention to the issue of climate change at Davos was very welcome, turning ambition into action will require that corporate and activist leaders alike increasingly advocate for policy change, focus on the regions and energy sectors driving emissions growth, and find common ground on the best role for the energy industry to play in delivering decarbonization solutions.

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change: In The Lancet, CGEP Senior Research Scholar Dr. Melissa C. Lott explores the health impacts of energy pollution, and how climate change is undermining the foundations of good health.

Interactions Between a Federal Carbon Tax and Other Climate Policies: CGEP’s Carbon Tax Research Initiative explores key questions and implications related to the design and implementation of a carbon tax in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the threat of climate change. In this report, Justin Gundlach, CGEP Non-Resident Fellow Ron Minsk and Research Scholar Dr. Noah Kaufman propose a framework to consider the interactions between a federal carbon tax and salient energy and emissions policies. The paper provides policymakers information about how they might want to add, subtract, or change existing policies by using the framework to classify existing policies are either complementary or redundant to a federal carbon tax.

Low-Carbon Heat Solutions for Heavy Industry: Sources, Options, and Costs Today: CGEP’s Carbon Management Research Initiative explores the public policy, financial and economic aspects of removing, storing and using carbon dioxide to reduce greenhouse gases and address the threat of climate change. In this report, CGEP Senior Research Scholar Dr. Julio Friedmann explains why the U.S. needs an agenda to decarbonize heavy industry.

Guide to Chinese Climate Policy: In the Guide to Chinese Climate Policy, CGEP Inaugural Fellow David Sandalow explores the impacts of climate change in China and the effectiveness of policies designed to address climate change.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Power Projects: Insights into Environmental and Debt Sustainability: CGEP Senior Research Scholar Dr. Erica Downs examines the environmental and debt sustainability of China’s Belt and Road Initiative through the lens of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) power sector projects. 

The Role of Natural Gas in the Energy Transition: CGEP Non-Resident Fellow Akos Losz and Senior Research Scholar Jonathan Elkind discuss industry outlooks for natural gas and LNG demand, and question marks surrounding the role of gas in deep decarbonization scenarios consistent with the Paris Agreement’s climate goals. 

Engaging State-Owned Enterprises in Climate Action: CGEP Adjunct Research Scholar Philippe Benoit explores the role of state-owned enterprises in climate change, examines the effectiveness of market-oriented solutions such as carbon taxes in changing SOE behavior, and evaluates some other potential strategies for reducing their emissions.

Energy Transition Fact Sheet: The world has embarked on an unprecedented effort to completely transition its energy supply and use to mitigate risks of global climate change. A new fact sheet outlines the challenges and opportunities in the global energy transition.

PG&E: Market and Policy Perspectives on the First Climate Change Bankruptcy: CGEP Senior Fellow John MacWilliams, Sarah La Monaca and James Kobus analyze the PG&E bankruptcy, assess how capital markets have reacted to the bankruptcy through the lens of valuations in the US utility sector, and discuss the policy implications of California’s recent legislative response to wildfire risk.

The Next Generation of Federal Clean Electricity Tax Credits: CGEP Adjunct Senior Research Scholar and Fellow Dr. Varun Sivaram and Research Scholar Dr. Noah Kaufman examine the renewable electricity production and investment tax credits and offer design principles for future clean electricity tax incentives.

Toward a Real Green Belt and Road: CGEP Senior Research Scholar Jonathan Elkind surveys the considerable environmental impacts of the Belt and Road Initiative in its current form and highlights several approaches to limit—and ideally eliminate—negative environmental impacts.

Accelerating Electric Bus Adoption in New York City: On September 17, 2019, CGEP hosted a workshop led by CGEP Inaugural Fellow David Sandalow and Columbia University SIPA Energy and Environment practicum students on the electrification of New York City’s bus fleet that offered a number of observations and recommendations to assist the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) with meeting its goal of fully electrifying New York City’s municipal bus fleet by 2040. 


In this series of free, one-hour virtual sessions, experts from across the Earth Institute and the Center on Global Energy Policy share aspects of their work through lectures, interactive activities, and live demos. On Monday, April 27, 2020, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST, CGEP Senior Research Scholar Erin Blanton will lead Let’s Get Fired Up With Energy to explore what makes the lights go on, heats our homes, and makes our cars go. During this interactive online session targeted for students in the 2nd to 4th grades, she will explain the basics of energy and the different finite and renewable natural resources that provide us with the energy that we need. View the full lineup here


Jason Bordoff for Earth Day: In a new video, CGEP Founding Director Jason Bordoff talks about the work of the Earth Institute, of which CGEP is an affiliate, “to bring the whole collective ambition and capacity of a great research institution like Columbia to bear on solving problems in the world like climate change.”

Carbon Taxes: How They Work: As economists, policymakers and other leaders eye carbon taxes as a climate policy solution, the Center on Global Energy Policy launched a new video that provides the basics on how carbon taxes work and what tradeoffs to consider.

Additional Resources

Looking Back, Moving Forward: Fifty years ago in recognition of the first Earth Day, thousands of students and faculty members at Columbia University participated in workshops, speeches, and marches as part of a national environmental teach-in. The Earth Institute continues in that rich tradition and celebrating the knowledge and people that are helping to guide the world onto a path toward sustainability.

What the First Earth Day Achieved | State of the Planet Blog