Earth Week Panel Discusses Sustainable Development in the Age of Trump

Earth Week Panel Discusses Sustainable Development in the Age of Trump

April 22, 2017 marked 47 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated across the United States. In the decades since, Earth Day has transformed into a widely-embraced annual event, observed by over one billion people globally.

The Center for Global Sustainability hosted a panel in Stamp Student Union on April 20 that attempted to understand what it will take to achieve continued and meaningful progress toward sustainable development, given the current political reality. The Environmental, International Development, and International Security and Economic Policy Councils at the School of Public Policy cosponsored the event.

Environmental Practitioners Share Professional Experiences on Panel

Environmental Practitioners Share Professional Experiences on Panel

The Center for Global Sustainability co-sponsored a career practitioner panel with the School of Public Policy Environmental Council and the Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations on April 11 in order to provide an opportunity for professionals to share their experiences with undergraduate and graduate students.

The panel included Cara Marcy, Renewable Electricity Analyst with the U.S. Energy Information Administration; James McGarry, Maryland and D.C. Policy Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network; and Andrew Reighart, an economist with the Environmental Protection Agency.  

Protected Areas Forum Encourages Community Involvement in Conservation

Protected Areas Forum Encourages Community Involvement in Conservation

Together with the School of Public Policy Environmental Council, the Center for Global Sustainability hosted a Global Sustainability Forum to discuss the benefits and challenges of managing U.S. federally protected areas.

The discussion was moderated by Sean Jackson, Environmental Council co-president and second-year Master’s of Public Policy student. Panelists included Brad Knudsen, Wildlife Refuge Manager of the Patuxent Research Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Lauren Wenzel, Acting Director of National Marine Protected Areas, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Brian Carlstrom, Deputy Associate Director for Budget and Policy with National Resource Stewardship and Science, National Park Service.

When asked about the role of universities and other academic and scientific institutions in the establishment and management of protected areas, Knudsen said that a conservation ethic needs to be instilled at an early age. Wenzel agreed that education is essential, as well as the development of a core of experts at universities and scientific institutions to engage with conservationists.

Volunteering is a great networking opportunity for students interested in protected area management, Knudsen said. He added that any sort of experience gained through volunteering could prove valuable in the competitive job market.

Carlstrom also suggested students get involved with volunteer activities; he encouraged students to be open in seeking opportunities and not to limit themselves.

“We’re depending on each and every one of you to be the stewards [of our national protected areas,]” Carlstrom said.

Kavita Surana Discusses Role of Collaboration in Cleantech Startup Innovation

Kavita Surana Discusses Role of Collaboration in Cleantech Startup Innovation

On March 9, Kavita Surana presented on "Governments as Partners: The Role of Collaboration in Cleantech Startup Innovation" at a Global Sustainability Forum. 

During her presentation, Surana described the findings from her paper that she coauthored with Claudia Doblinger and Laura Diaz Anadon, which has yet to be published. 

Students Attend ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit

Students Attend ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit

Two School of Public Policy and CGS students, PhD candidate Minji Jeong and second year MPP student Luting Jin, recently attended the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. This annual event from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy brings together experts from public, private, and academic fields to explore the newest innovations in energy technology. Their participation in the ARPA-E summit was organized and sponsored by Womanium, a nonprofit designed to support women in STEM and STEM-related fields, as well as by CGS.

ARPA-E is an innovative organization within DOE, modeled after the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that brought us the internet and other breakthroughs, designed to support and bring to market potentially transformational energy technologies. Speakers at this year’s summit included high level speakers and featured a large showcase room where participants could engage with experts on emerging technologies in transportation, energy efficiency, electrical generation. University of Maryland Physics Professor Ellen Williams was director of ARPA-E from 2014-2017.

Selection for the student program was competitive and only 100 graduate students attend each year. Both Jeong and Jin have been pursuing their interest in energy technology research and policy analysis through their studies at the School of Public Policy and research activities with the Center for Global Sustainability.

Jeong is currently a research assistant with CGS and will soon defend her doctoral dissertation, “National Renewable Energy Policy in a Global World.” While at UMD, she worked at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between the University of Maryland and the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She highlighted the value of the ARPA-E summit as an opportunity to learn about breakthrough energy technologies. “It was inspiring to talk to people who have innovative ideas and try to make changes for a sustainable future,” she said. “As a policy student studying energy technology, this event helped me to broaden my perspective on energy technologies.”


Jin is currently a research assistant at JGCRI. She said the experience brought her back to her work on science and technology, and reflected on the pilot projects being run to help new energy sources overcome technical and economic barriers. “As Dr. John Holdren mentioned in his recent lecture at the School of Public Policy, while governments provide funding for fundamental research, the private sector usually brings innovative ideas to reality,” she said, adding, “I’m glad to see so many scientists and engineers participating in the policy-making process, including my professors.”

CGS Research Team Awarded $300,000 Energy Foundation Grant for Global Coal Track Project.

CGS Research Team Awarded $300,000 Energy Foundation Grant for Global Coal Track Project.

A research team led by the Center for Global Sustainability was recently awarded $300,000 for a new project aimed at providing policymakers with crucial information about coal-fired power plants worldwide and the implications of planned coal increases for national and global climate goals.

The Global Coal Data Track and Analysis Project will develop a data clearinghouse for information on planned and current coal plants and use this new resource to provide important scholarship on the future of energy and emissions from the coal sector.

The project will be funded by the Energy Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports energy efficiency and clean energy efforts across the globe. The project is led by Dr. Ryna Cui, a CGS affiliate, and Professor Nathan Hultman, director of CGS, and will engage several graduate students at the School of Public Policy and an additional post-doctoral researcher.

The project consists of three pieces: a series of global and country-level analyses with respect to coal market trends; a public data source made possible by collecting, tracking and providing high-quality data of coal-based power facilities worldwide; and a series of public events to share information about the results.

Cui, an alumna of the School of Public Policy and a post-doctoral researcher at the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI), noted that through the project “we will be able to assess interactions across multiple segments of the economy, for instance, impacts on air pollution, energy security, as well as other national development priorities,” adding that, “We hope our findings can effectively inform policy-making about market trends and in the meantime inform investment decisions about policy signals."

Cui has already produced scholarship on this topic and worked extensively on clean energy and climate policy. During her time as a Low-Carbon Development Research Intern at the World Resources Institute, Cui co-authored the “Global Coal Risk Assessment” a broadly cited paper that looked at worldwide trends in coal production. She believes the new project will constitute a “major contribution” to existing scholarship by providing open-source data via an integrated assessment (IA) modeling tool as well as analyzing what market trends will mean for climate-related policy goals, especially to countries’ commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Hultman is the co-lead investigator for the project. He noted, “The Global Coal Track Project will bring a high quality data product and ongoing policy analysis to the international community, enabling better global transparency into the activities that countries are or are not taking to control their emissions.”

In addition, he sees this project as part of a wider set of activities at CGS and UMD which seek to enhance global capacity to track and act on the goals of the Paris Agreement and related Sustainable Development Goals.

“We, with our partners at JGCRI, have been able to put together a great team to tackle this issue and we think this can make a real impact by making useful data and analysis available to a wide variety of users.”

Tina Johnson Discusses New Reality of Activism, Advocacy, and Climate Policy Action

Tina Johnson Discusses New Reality of Activism, Advocacy, and Climate Policy Action

Tina Johnson, policy director for the U.S. Climate Action Network, facilitated a dialogue on the future of climate action at a Global Sustainability Forum on Feb. 23.

Johnson’s work focuses on coordinating USCAN member organizations to advance policies to tackle climate change in international and domestic arenas. Previously, Johnson served as a senior director at Energy Action Coalition.

Johnson said that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina catalyzed her passion to work on environmental policy issues. She visits Louisiana every year because she is so inspired by the resiliency and tenacity of the people of New Orleans all these years later.

Along this line, Johnson discussed how different demographics experience climate change differently, which means they view the priorities of climate action differently.

“Justice is defined differently by everyone. If you ask a white person what environmental justice means, it’s going to be a very different answer than if you ask a person of color,” Johnson said. “And you have to figure out a way to build coalitions out of these different definitions... Figuring out what the resonance is for justice is really key, and putting a human face on it.”

Regarding the new administration, Johnson said that policy makers need to pivot away from pursuing climate action through adrenaline and anger.

“We need to take the time to do the hard work to invest in social change in a way that people care about and understand why it matters to them,” Johnson said. “There is a language for conservatives that their audience is comfortable using, and that’s what progressives need to learn how to do. Find even the one point of common ground, and build from there.”

Sarah Jordaan Discusses Lifecycle Assessments and Potential of Renewables

Sarah Jordaan Discusses Lifecycle Assessments and Potential of Renewables

At a Global Sustainability Forum on Feb. 9, Dr. Sarah Jordaan explained how risk assessment models will be more productive in communicating to government, industry, and other stakeholders the emissions associated with the expansion of natural gas markets as compared to other energy sources.

Jordaan also mentioned that the estimates for lifecycle emissions for various fuel sources for the United States include data from research done by Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability. 

“If you can sit down and get a room full of industry to listen to you, think through what you’re saying, and get them excited about it, then you can really affect a lot of positive change,” Jordaan said. She anticipates the potential of the development of a business case for climate action under a "business-oriented government."

Jordaan acknowledged that the new administration provides challenges to climate policy, but affirmed that “making climate policy in the face of uncertainty is nothing new.” 

“It is incredible the amount of innovation and investment that’s happening with renewables integration… The most advanced and competitive companies are going to be keeping an eye on [renewables integration] because it’s going to matter for their operations.”


 

First 2017 Global Sustainability Forum Focuses on Energy Potential in Sub-Saharan Africa

First 2017 Global Sustainability Forum Focuses on Energy Potential in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nkiruka Avila and Professor Daniel M. Kammen presented “The Energy Challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa” at the first Global Sustainability Forum of the year on Monday.

“Sub-saharan Africa is the area with the most energy potential on the whole continent,” Avila said. “It’s a very ironic story that for decades this area has remained dark despite their energy potential.”

Together with OXFAM, Avila and Kammen released a report on Tuesday concerning the role for renewable energy sources versus fossil fuels and the role for centralized versus distributed energy systems in addressing energy poverty. According to the report, about 630 million people live without  access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Avila and Kammen emphasized that solar energy is the most cost effective electricity option for sub-Saharan countries. Kammen encouraged future policy makers in the audience to consider focusing on energy policy in this regard. "The integration of power and electricity in mixtures which make sense is an area in which [policy makers] are really behind," Kammen said.


University of Maryland at UN Climate Negotiations in Morocco

University of Maryland at UN Climate Negotiations in Morocco

With high-level side-events, an exhibit space, and a contingent of faculty and students, the University of Maryland and the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) had a strong presence at this year’s international climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

What a Trump presidency means for U.S. and global climate policy

What a Trump presidency means for U.S. and global climate policy

Donald Trump’s election raised the question of whether the U.S. will continue to be a leader on climate change and clean energy. At the international climate negotiations in Morocco today, the mood after the election is deeply uneasy.

University of Maryland Participates in Morocco UN Climate Conference

University of Maryland Participates in Morocco UN Climate Conference

UMD will be represented and actively driving global conversations on climate implementation and climate policy at this year’s UN climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. Building on previous COPs, UMD will be sending faculty, staff, and students to COP22 from November 7-18.

School of Public Policy hosts UN Climate Negotiation Simulation

School of Public Policy hosts UN Climate Negotiation Simulation

The seventh annual Inter-University Climate Change Negotiation Simulation (ICCN) hosted by the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland drew students from across the region for a unique opportunity to experience the work of international climate negotiations firsthand.