- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Experts Identify Most Urgent Energy Policy Needs at Acting in Time Conference

| Winter 2008-09

Energy Advisors to Presidential Candidates Join in Timely Discussion

On September 18-19, the Belfer Center’s Energy Technology Innovation Policy (ETIP) research group hosted a major conference on U.S. energy policy. Under the auspices of the Consortium for Energy Policy Research at Harvard, led by William Hogan and Louisa Lund, and with the cooperation of Harvard University Center for the Environment, ETIP brought together members of academia, research centers, government, business, and non-governmental organizations for intensive discussion on future energy policy directions for the United States.  About twenty members of the faculty from across Harvard University served on the conference program committee.

The conference, Acting in Time on Energy Policy, focused on six main topics: global climate change, carbon capture and storage technology, oil and transportation, energy innovation, electricity, and leadership. Seven Harvard faculty members and senior researchers contributed papers for the conference, including Max Bazerman of Harvard Business School, William Hogan, Kelly Gallagher, Henry Lee, John P. Holdren, and Laura Diaz Anadon of Harvard Kennedy School, and Dan Schrag of FAS and the Harvard University Center for Environment. On the evening of the first day, a "Dinner with the Campaigns,” featured Floyd Deschamps and Jason Grumet, senior energy advisors to John McCain and Barack Obama, who explained their candidates’ energy platforms.

On the subject of overall U.S. emission reductions, Dechamps said the target should be to restore U.S. emissions to 2005 emission level by 2012, to 1990 levels by 2030, and to 20% below 1990 levels by 2060. Grumet noted that Senator Obama is committed to somewhat more aggressive emission reduction pathways, using a full auction of emission allowances.

Summing up the importance of “acting in time” on energy policy to prevent catastrophic effects of climate change, the Belfer Center’s John Holdren said, “More than 80% of the energy in [the world’s] economy needs is wrecking the climate its environment needs. We’ve got to fix this. That is the essence of the problem.”

The conference title, “Acting in Time on Energy Policy,” draws on the Harvard Kennedy School “Acting in Time” initiative, launched by HKS dean David Ellwood. In his welcome, Ellwood noted the significance of the conference and expressed hope that “in spite of all the pressures and competing interests, we will ultimately act in time to deal with this major crisis.

The purpose of the conference was to inform and help shape energy policy for the next administration and Congress, according to Gallagher. “We particularly wanted to identify the problems that need to be acted upon most urgently,” she said. A forthcoming book titled Acting in Time on Energy Policy, to be edited by Gallagher, will be used to brief members of the next administration and Congress. "It is our hope that this infusion of innovative and fresh policy recommendations will result in some concrete actions," she said.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Milton, Sam. Experts Identify Most Urgent Energy Policy Needs at Acting in Time Conference.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Winter 2008-09).

The Author