Magazine Article - John F. Kennedy School of Government Bulletin

Thinking Globally

| Winter 2008

Q&A with Kelly Sims Gallagher

Kelly Sims Gallagher is director of the Kennedy School’s Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group and advises the United States and Chinese governments on a variety of energy issues. 

>>> How did you get interested in environmental issues?

I grew up in Colorado in a remote rural mountain setting. I went to college in Los Angeles. When I got there, I repeatedly got sick. Finally a doctor asked me if I was actually exercising outside. I said, “Yes I go for a daily jog.” He said, “You can’t do that in this environment. That’s like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.” That was sufficiently shocking that I enrolled in my first environmental science course.

>>> Why China?

China, the United States, and India are three of the largest energy-consuming countries in the world so that is why we focus on them in our research group. My personal involvement was largely driven by my interest in climate change — my recognition that in this century China would become the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

>>> What of your work has had the biggest policy impact?

There are two things that are already done, and one that we’re in the middle of. In China, with the book I just published, China Shifts Gears, I documented how hard it is for countries like China to adopt the most advanced energy-efficient technology. That leapfrogging, which makes so much sense, is not an automatic process. Second, our group worked closely with the China Automotive Technology & Research Center to develop China’s fuel efficiency standards for auto­mobiles.We’re now in the middle of a similar exercise for the United States — looking at policy options for reducing oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.

>>> So do you drive a Prius?

I do drive a Prius. Because of the issues I work on, I felt I had no choice. But I’m delighted with the car. We really like it.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Energy Technology Innovation Policy
For Academic Citation:Thinking Globally.” John F. Kennedy School of Government Bulletin, Winter 2008,