environmental justice

Special panel talk with students

Gro Brundtland, Board of Directors, United Nations Foundation; Former Prime Minister of Norway

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:14 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

This Energy Seminar will feature a student-led discussion with Dr. Gro Brundtland on the challenges in climate and energy --an area she has been a global leader.

**Come join us for the Precourt Institute for Energy social following this talk. NVIDIA Foyer, 5:15-6:15 (open to Stanford faculty, staff, and students. Editors of the Stanford Energy Journal will be present to discuss their latest sustainability transportation issue.

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Panel, Ethics in an Energy Crisis: What Should We Do When Current Needs Conflict with Long-Term Sustainability?

Mark Bryant Budolfson, Blake Francis, Hyunseop Kim, Stanford University

Introduction by Debra Satz, Professor of Ethics in Society, Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities and Arts

Monday, October 21, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Mark Budolfson Blake Francis Hyunseop Kim Debra Satz

Ethics are important. The economic divide between the developed and developing world highlights the ethical dimensions of energy access in a climate-constrained world. Is it fair to hinder economic growth in developing countries because the wealthiest nations have changed the composition of the atmosphere and changed the climate of the planet? To what extent do the developed nations bear responsibility for not only remedying the problem, but also for compensating those people who are now suffering because of climate climate, or who could face tight emissions restrictions? As the economic balance of the world changes, what role should rapidly developing nations share in the responsibility to address these issues?

Here, we examine these issues through the lens of one country, Pakistan, which is struggling with a severe energy crisis that is holding back economic development and exacerbating political instability. Ethicists, economists, and others have developed a set of useful tools for deciding what to do when economic, environmental, and social values conflict. We will explain how some of these tools–including cost benefit analysis, the precautionary principle, and principles of justice–can help us evaluate aspects of the recent energy crisis in Pakistan, in which many competing values are at play. After months of rolling blackouts and documented impacts to economic growth, the Pakistani government decided to meet the current needs of their citizens by investing in coal and other fossil fuel technologies, rather than alternative sources of energy that many would argue are superior from the perspective of long-run sustainability. We use this example to illustrate how different general ethical theories use the tools we discuss to recommend different courses of action. One upshot is that ethics has many sophisticated tools but also involves many important unresolved questions–about how to make tradeoffs between different values, how to respond to risk and uncertainty, and so on. Another upshot is that ethics alone cannot settle what should be done in such complex situations–collaboration is also needed with those who have technical, political, and economic expertise. However, ethics can help clarify our reasoning, make our assumptions about values more explicit, and expose our values to critical scrutiny. In sum, we demonstrate the valuable role ethics can play when making decisions in the face of social and environmental challenges.

Related Themes:

Connecting the Dots: The Water, Food, Energy and Climate Nexus

Monday, April 16, 2012 | 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM | McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center |

We have a special Stanford program today and encourage our Energy Seminar community to attend. Registration is required. If you are not a student enrolled in the Energy Seminar and wish to attend the Connecting the Dots program on April 16, please register at connectingthedots.stanford.edu. Additional information is available at the Connecting The Dots website.
Please note this event is being held in a different venue then most Energy Seminars.
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Global Cookstove Problems, and the Berkeley Darfur Stove

Ashok Gadgil, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California,  Berkeley

Monday, February 28, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

In parallel with his research in Indoor Environment, Dr. Gadgil has a long record of innovative solutions to problems in the developing world. He has pioneered the way to accelerate access to compact fluorescent lamps for poor households in developing countries; invented and commercialized a method to affordably disinfect drinking water for poor communities; designed, tested, and then found a way to build, field-test, and disseminate thousands of fuel-efficient stoves to refugee women in Darfur; and invented and is currently field-testing an extremely low cost, robust, and technically reliable method to remove arsenic from drinking water in Bangladesh and nearby regions.


Followed by a MAP Energy Social held in the Huang-Foyer (next to the NVIDIA Auditorium)

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Cities and Climate Change: New York and the World

Rohit Aggarwala, City of New York, New York, Director of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability 2006-2010

Monday, January 3, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building (Y2E2) | Free and Open to All

Followed by the Orange Bowl Reception and 5:15pm Kickoff on the Plasma TV, in the Y2E2 Social Entry (for faculty, students, and staff), 473 Via Ortega, Stanford.

Increasingly, the focus of the global fight against climate change is shifting to cities, both as national policies and global agreements seem unlikely to change in the near term, and as policymakers appreciate the extent to which the frontlines of the fight are in the cities themselves.  Home to the majority of humanity, and the vast majority of global consumption, cities will clearly be the locations of most efforts at improving energy efficiency and reducing transportation emissions.  In most of the world’s cities, it is local government that has direct control over the planning decisions, building codes, transit systems, and waste systems that must change if the world is to transition to a low-carbon economy.  Finally, in many countries, urban populations are more willing to adopt low-carbon policies than national populations, which make it far more politically feasible for mayors to act decisively.


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York is increasingly seen as a leader on urban sustainability policy, both for his local efforts in New York City and globally, upon his recent assumption of the chairmanship of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an organization of many of the world’s largest cities working together on climate change policy.


Rohit T. Aggarwala, Bloomberg’s former sustainability director and currently an advisor to C40, will talk about the content, history, and execution of PlaNYC, New York’s award-winning sustainability efforts.  From planting a million trees to adopting congestion pricing to requiring hybrid taxis to imposing retrofit requirements on existing buildings, PlaNYC was an ambitious plan that has had major successes and significant defeats.  Aggarwala will discuss, in particular, lessons learned from the victory on green buildings and the defeat of New York City’s congestion pricing proposal.

In addition, he will talk broadly about the challenge facing the world’s cities.  C40’s members account for one-twelfth of humanity and 20% of global GDP, but the needs, powers, and political constraints affecting municipal government vary dramatically across those cities.


No slides available

Related Themes:

Well-Being, Consumption, and Climate Change Commitment

Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford University

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

Part 2: Miniseries on Energy Impact


Governments are currently considering policies that will limit greenhouse gas concentrations, including negotiation of an international treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol. Designing effective climate change mitigation and adaptation measures requires rigorous, comprehensive, detailed analyses of the response of climate dynamics to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, and of the potential impacts of those climate changes on natural and human systems. Using a high-resolution climate modeling system, we find that the potential impacts of very high greenhouse gas concentrations are largest where critical thresholds are crossed, with fine-scale climate processes amplifying the climate change – and therefore the impacts – in many regions. We also find that substantial intensification of hot extremes could occur within the next 3 decades, below the 2 ˚C global warming target currently being considered by policy makers. However, the critical importance of energy consumption to human development and well-being creates a tension for both development priorities and climate policy. Indeed, we find that closing the gap in energy consumption between rich and poor populations via intensive consumption and emissions profiles causes global warming of 1.75 to 4.75 ˚C, along with seasonal warming that exceeds two standard deviations of interannual variability over most land areas. This level of climate change is independent of any future emissions by the 28 countries that exhibit the highest levels of well-being at present, suggesting that simultaneously ensuring human well-being and avoiding dangerous climate change requires intensive efforts to enable low-carbon energy consumption.



No video or speaker slides available

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Controlling Climate Change after Copenhagen

Bert Metz, former co-chair IPCC Working Group on Mitigation of Climate Change, author of "Controlling Climate Change", and advisor to the European Climate Foundation.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

Bert Metz discusses his new book, Controlling Climate Change, which provides an unbiased and comprehensive overview, based on the latest findings of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Using no jargon, it looks at tackling and adapting to man-made climate change, and works through the often confusing potential solutions. He provides a cutting edge assessment of issues at the top of the political agenda, covering scenarios to limit the consequences of warming to manageable proportions, transitions to a low carbon and climate resilient economy, the most important measures in the various economic sectors and their potential costs. The implications of the poor results of the 2009 Copenhagen Summit will also be discussed.
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Extending the Grid: Transmission Siting Issues and How to Resolve Them

Suedeen Kelly, Former Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

In energy planning circles, in all sectors of the electric industry, in state utility regulatory commissions, and on Capitol Hill, we’ve heard a lot of discussion over the past year about changing the traditional paradigm surrounding the building of electric transmission in order to extend the country’s electric grid. Recently, the talk has moved into the arena of action. In the U.S. House and Senate, there are numerous bills that propose legislative changes to how we plan and site transmission in America—and how we allocate the cost of it. The Waxman-Markey Climate Change bill, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year, includes such changes. All of the various bills differ one from the other. One similarity among them all is that the federal government’s role (in the person of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) would be expanded and the states’ role would be reduced.

Why is there a growing consensus for change? What’s wrong with how we’ve always done things? (How have we always done things?) Is there a problem here? What are the proposed changes? What are we trying to accomplish with change? What is the best proposal being put forward? Who likes the changes? Who stands to benefit from the changes? Will there be any losers? Ms. Kelly intends to answer these questions during her presentation. She will also discuss what is likely to happen to the U.S. electric grid if we do not see any legislative change from Congress.
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Overcoming the Resource Curse (Resources and Transparency)

Professor Terry Karl, Gildred Professor of Latin American Studies, Political Science, Stanford University

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

September 24, 2008 - Terry Karl, Gildred Professor of Latin American Studies and professor of Political Science at Stanford University, discusses overcoming the resource curse. She investigates the "paradox of plenty," which states that oil-exporting countries are disproportionately dependent on the petrodollar, and therefore generally have slower development, lower quality of life and authoritarian rule. She comments on the mistrust that develops within oil-producing countries and volatility of the oil market - both products of the opaqueness of the price of oil - which contributes to the emergence of violence and corruption. Karl calls for transparency from oil-exporting nations and the multinational oil companies that purchase oil from them.

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