Hear in-depth conversations with the world’s top energy and climate leaders from government, business, academia, and civil society.


Find out more about our upcoming and past events.


Obama climate aide to leave White House for Columbia University


Obama climate aide to leave White House for 
Columbia University

Colin Sullivan, E&E reporter
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013


NEW YORK — President Obama’s decision to elevate climate change to the top of his second-term agenda will not involve one of his top energy policy experts, Jason Bordoff, who has left the White House to teach at Columbia University.

Bordoff took a job today at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, as a professor of professional practice. The Harvard Law School graduate was a key figure on climate and energy issues in the first Obama White House, holding several high-ranking positions.

Bordoff, also an economist and a Brooklyn native, first joined the Obama administration in April 2009 from the Brookings Institution as associate director for climate change at the Council on Environmental Quality. He then headed energy and climate affairs at the National Security Council.


Bordoff’s departure comes on the heels of news that Jonathan Pershing, special envoy for climate change at the State Department, is leaving to become the Department of Energy’s new deputy assistant secretary for climate (ClimateWire, Jan. 18).

Columbia described Bordoff as one of the nation’s top energy policy experts. Dean of international affairs Robert Lieberman said students at the Ivy League’s Upper West Side digs will benefit from his experience “on the front lines of real-world policymaking at the highest level.”

“I’m confident he will be an incredible asset in the classroom and at the energy policy center,” Lieberman said. “SIPA already offers one of the most comprehensive graduate-level programs in energy policy, and I’m sure that Jason will enhance that even more.”

In a statement, Bordoff said he sees few policy issues as important as energy emerging on the world stage.

“As someone who has relied on academic and think-tank analysis to help inform policy decisions, I know there is a need for more independent, rigorous analysis of the energy policy choices that our leaders face,” he said.

Bordoff’s inclusion at Columbia beefs up what is already a robust, universitywide emphasis on subjects like energy and climate change. Columbia’s Earth Institute and faculty there are considered influential thought leaders in their fields and were widely quoted in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

According to SIPA, Bordoff will have the room to pursue research interests at the intersection of economics, energy, environment and national security. Before his time at the White House, Bordoff led policy at the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative housed at the Brookings Institution.

He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the board of the Association of Marshall Scholars.

Bordoff got his start in politics during the Clinton administration, when he was an adviser in the Treasury Department to Deputy Secretary Stuart Eizenstat, a lead U.S. negotiator of the Kyoto Protocol.

A biography of Bordoff posted on Harvard Law School’s website noted the 2004 graduate had previously published an editorial in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Pay-As-You-Drive Legislation Is a Win-Win,” in which he praised auto insurance companies in Washington state for basing insurance rates on miles driven, as opposed to an annual lump sum. Bordoff also co-edited “Path to Prosperity: Hamilton Project Ideas on Income Security, Education, and Taxes,” published by Brookings Institution Press in 2008.


Bordoff holds a master’s degree in literature from Oxford University and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.