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CGEP Launches New Program on Trade and the Clean Energy Transition at Columbia University SIPA

The Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), in partnership with Columbia SIPA’s Institute of Global Politics (IGP), today announced the launch of a new Trade and Clean Energy Transition Program (TCET). The program will advance innovative research and build a global community of scholars, thought leaders, and policymakers to address critical issues at the nexus of trade and climate policy. Its inaugural initiative will include an International Dialogue on Climate and Trade that will aim to find common ground on strategies to strengthen global climate action by leveraging the nexus of climate and trade.

“In the quickly evolving geopolitical landscape of a world transitioning towards cleaner forms of energy, it is essential that we better understand the interplay between trade and climate policy,” said Jason Bordoff, Founding Director of CGEP. “As a leading energy research institution housed within one of the nation’s best international affairs schools, the Center on Global Energy Policy is uniquely positioned to bring together diverse fields of expertise—from foreign policy, to international economics, to clean energy—needed to examine the complex relationship between trade and climate change. CGEP’s new Trade and Clean Energy Transition Program will bring governments, stakeholders, and experts together to examine these critical challenges.”

The launch of TCET comes amid increasing friction between climate and trade priorities as countries around the world pursue the implementation of ambitious policies to accelerate the clean energy transition. It follows the announcement of a White House Climate and Trade Task Force at CGEP’s 2024 Global Energy Summit in April. In announcing the Task Force, Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy John Podesta underscored the growing and essential role of trade and trade policy in the transition to a clean energy future. 

“Matters of international economics such as trade have historically not been a big part of the energy and climate conversation. That is starting to change. Columbia SIPA’s Institute of Global Politics was created precisely to bring together leading academics and top practitioners to examine cross-cutting issues of international affairs and economics and develop actionable insights to tackle key global challenges such as climate change. I’m very excited about this new collaboration with Columbia SIPA’s Center on Global Energy Policy,” said SIPA Dean Keren Yarhi-Milo.

Across the world, governments are using subsidies and other economic levers to accelerate the development of low-carbon industries and clean energy infrastructure. At the same time, governments are using domestic content requirements, tariffs, export restrictions, and other economic tools to address concerns about competitiveness, national security, domestic politics, and the environment. Many countries and stakeholders are questioning whether today’s rules-based trading system is fit for purpose in an era of great power competition and a changing climate. These developments have led to tensions among developed and developing economies alike and have undermined the trade rules and institutions that have governed cross-border commerce since the end of the Cold War. As policymakers navigate these uncharted waters, CGEP’s experts will deliver cutting-edge, policy-oriented analysis on how trade cooperation can be revitalized and re-geared to promote decarbonization and economic resilience in an increasingly fragmented global marketplace. TCET is funded with initial support from the BMW Foundation and Breakthrough Energy.

Trevor Sutton has joined CGEP to direct TCET and Elliot Diringer has joined CGEP to lead the International Dialogue on Climate and Trade. Sutton, a graduate of Yale Law School and Oxford University, previously served as Research Director at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, where he helped lead a project on reform of the global trade system. Before joining Yale, Sutton was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focused on international economic policy. Diringer joins CGEP from the State Department, where he served as a senior policy advisor to U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. He has also served as executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), where he led influential informal discussions among lead climate negotiators.

TCET has established an advisory board comprised of leading former policymakers, Columbia faculty, and other thought leaders with deep experience and expertise at the intersection of the energy transition, climate, and trade. Initial advisory board members include:

  • Mari Pangestu, CGEP Distinguished Visiting Fellow and former Indonesian Trade Minister
  • Merit Janow, Dean Emerita and Professor of Practice, Columbia SIPA, and former member, WTO Appellate Body
  • Roberto Azevêdo, CGEP Non-Resident Fellow and former WTO Director-General
  • Sarah Bianchi, CGEP Distinguished Visiting Fellow and former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia and Nobel laureate

For more information, please email [email protected].

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