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Dr. Varun Sivaram Joins Biden-Harris Administration as Senior Adviser to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

New York — The Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy is delighted to congratulate senior research scholar Dr. Varun Sivaram, who has joined the Biden-Harris administration as a senior adviser to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and former Secretary of State John F. Kerry. A newly created position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate reports directly to President Biden, has a seat at the National Security Council and at the State Department, and leads diplomatic efforts to reassert U.S. climate leadership and raise global climate ambition.

During his tenure at CGEP, Dr. Sivaram led the Global Energy Innovation Initiative, and research focused on clean energy innovation policy, energy transitions in emerging economies such as India, and digital technologies for decarbonization. He was the lead author of Energizing America: A Roadmap to Launch a National Energy Innovation Mission, which offers policymakers a strategic framework to triple U.S. federal energy research, development, and demonstration funding to $25 billion by 2025. Bloomberg reported that “The book details down to the budget line item exactly how much money America should spend and how it should spend it,” and former Secretary Kerry endorsed it as “a plan to make the United States the world leader in clean energy innovation and rise to an existential challenge — creating exciting new jobs along the way.”

“I am thrilled that Varun will have a chance to deploy the research he did at Columbia — from his study of innovative energy technologies to his insights about India’s energy transition — in his new role in the Biden-Harris administration to advance ambitious climate action, speed global energy transitions through innovation, and boost U.S. global competitiveness in clean industries,” said Jason Bordoff, Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy. “It is critical to elevate the issue of climate change across all elements of U.S. foreign and national security policy, and John Kerry’s appointment as Special Presidential Envoy signals how seriously the Biden-Harris administration takes the daunting challenge of climate change.”

Before joining CGEP, Dr. Sivaram was Chief Technology Officer of ReNew Power, a multibillion-dollar renewable-energy firm that is India’s largest. His previous roles include director of the energy & climate program at the Council on Foreign Relations, senior energy advisor to the Los Angeles Mayor and New York Governor, professor at Georgetown University, and consultant at McKinsey & Co. He has served as a board member for Stanford University’s energy and environment institutes, on the board of directors of Peridot Acquisition Corporation (NYSE: PDAC), as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council for the Energy Transition, and as one of the 25 advisors to the UN COP26 climate conference in 2021. TIME Magazine named him to its TIME 100 Next list of the next hundred most influential people in the world, and his TED talk on India’s clean energy transition has been watched more than 1 million times. His books include Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet, and Digital Decarbonization: Promoting Digital Innovations to Advance Clean Energy Systems. A Rhodes and Truman Scholar, he holds a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from Oxford University and undergraduate degrees from Stanford University.