energy ethics and equity
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.
Monday, April 16, 2012 | 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM | McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center |
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)
Nancy Jackson, Founder and Chair, Climate and Energy Project, Kansas
Monday, February 7, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
In America’s Heartland, where many if not most are skeptical about climate change, a tiny nonprofit has successfully promoted energy solutions. While we certainly wish to change policy, we know that policy alone is not sufficient – the will to implement must be steadfast as well. So we have worked from the ground up and the top down to connect with citizen’s core values, to identify shared goals, to raise the voices of local champions, and to take action together. Our Take Charge Challenge – an energy efficiency contest between communities – harnessed the competitive spirit and transformed efficiency from “sacrifice” to “win.” Energy forums, an economic development tour, a workforce development survey, and booths at the Kansas State Fair in addition to legislative briefings and endless testimony transformed wind energy from “pipe dream” to “a key part of the energy mix.” The Climate & Energy Project seeks to set new defaults for energy use, identifying efficiency as the obvious first fuel and renewables like wind as cost-effective options that “just make sense.”
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
Janeen S. Judah, President, Chevron Environmental Management Company
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
Part 1: Miniseries on Energy Impact
Centuries of economic growth have boosted living standards, improved health and created opportunities for humankind – but global industrial development has also left behind tracts of contaminated land.
Cleaning up these "brownfield" lands is a complex, multi-billion dollar business involving agencies, responsible parties, consultants and other stakeholders. Businesses and communities face cleanup challenges and sometimes multiple options to re-use renewed sites, such as habitat restoration, industrial or commercial redevelopment, housing and renewable energy projects. But for many sites, cleanup and reuse are difficult or impossible using today’s technologies.
Chevron spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on environmental cleanup at sites of former service stations, oil refineries, chemical plants, oil fields, pipelines and other operations. The work is performed by Chevron Environmental Management Company (EMC), founded in 1998 to manage the company's legacy cleanup responsibilities. EMC focuses on cost-efficient, technically-sound remediation and on protecting the environment and public health. It works in partnership with communities and government on solutions that provide local benefit and are grounded in sound science, and invests in better remediation technologies. EMC promotes beneficial reuses ranging from condominiums to warehouses, and solar energy generation to constructed wetlands. Through a dedication to environmental stewardship, Chevron is committed to cleaning up the past, but we view our responsibility also as a major opportunity to create a better future.
followed by an Energy Social (details announced at the seminar)
No video or speaker slides available
No video or speaker slides available
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.
Professor Stephen W. Pacala, Petrie Professor of Ecology; Director, Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
Stephen W. Pacala, professor of Biology at Princeton University and Director of the Princeton Environmental Institute, discusses equitable solutions to the carbon and climate problem. Pacala presents the mechanisms that underly the current climate projections, and then debunks the notion that we cannot feasibly reduce our carbon emissions by laying out a mix of carbon reduction strategies he refers to as "wedges." He also addresses the disproportionate amount of fossil carbon in the atmosphere atributable to rich nations and how the carbon reductions could be achieved equitably.