energy ethics and equity

Climate Change Ethics: Life and Death

John Broome, Visiting Scholar, Professor of Moral Philosophy at University of Oxford

Monday, February 23, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Climate change raises important and difficult issues of ethics. Broadly they fall into two classes. There are issues of justice concerned with how the work of dealing with climate change should be shared among countries and people. There are issues of value concerned with judging the harm that climate change will do, and the benefits of measures to control it. I shall concentrate on value, and particularly on the special problems for value theory that arise from the life-and-death effects of climate change. Climate change will shorten many people's lives, and it will affect the number of people who will be born. How should we value these effects?


John Broome is Emeritus White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford and a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Stanford. He was previously Professor of Economics at Bristol. His books include *Counting the Cost of Global warming* (1992), *Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World* (2012) and *Rationality Through Reasoning* (2013).

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Self-Regulatory Lessons From the U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power Industry: Why Does It Work and Why Can’t It Be Replicated?

Admiral Jim Ellis, Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution

Monday, February 2, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

In the early morning hours of March 28, 1979 began a series of events that led to a partial meltdown of the reactor core at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant and the worst accident in the history of the commercial nuclear power industry in the United States. Catalyzed by this event, the industry leadership formed an independent oversight entity, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, resourced its technical staffing, and ceded significant authorities to it in the areas of operational oversight, training and accreditation, the sharing of operational experience and provision of assistance to plants in need. As the former President and CEO of INPO, Admiral Ellis will discuss the requirements for effective self-regulation, specifically, and consider the broader employment of the concept.

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A New Energy Agenda for Latin America: Challenges and Opportunities (Latin America mini-series 4 of 4)

Mauricio Garron, Senior Energy Specialist, CAF Development Bank of Latin America

Monday, May 12, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

The objective is to offer a broad perspective on the current situation and the challenges that Latin America and the Caribbean will face in the short, medium and long run. The aim, then, is to provide an overview that helps to identify both these challenges and opportunities for developing energy projects and improve regional energy planning that can make a contribution to sustainable economic development.

The talk would give an overview of the factors affecting the energy situation and the impacts on Latin America. It also analyses the progress towards and obstacles to energy integration and security of supply. Another important issue is the balance between resources and reserves as this affects the supply and consumption of energy. The environmental implications and problems associated with climate change in the context of global energy development trends. Particular emphasis will be is laid on the potential role of progress with technological development and innovation, energy efficiency and renewable energies.
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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.

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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 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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Our Energy Future: Lessons from the Heartland

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.”

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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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Cleaning Up Our Industrial Past to Create a Better Future

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

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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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