The energy sector poses enormous challenges for world leaders today. National economies depend on fuel supplies that often come from, or are shipped through, unstable or conflict-prone regions. Volatile energy prices can undermine development and spur domestic unrest. Fossil fuel consumption is the main driver of human-induced global climate change, as well as local and regional air pollution. Energy production generates other harmful impacts through activities such as mining and fuel refining. Also, in many developing countries people do not have access to energy services. As national governments consider climate change policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions, they must also ensure increased access to clean energy services that are critical for much needed economic development.
But these challenges also offer major opportunities. By developing low-carbon and carbon-free energy sources, industrialized and developing countries can meet human needs while averting catastrophic impacts from global climate change. Strategic energy investments can also foster clean industries that generate jobs and improve national competitiveness. And nations that develop strong clean energy industries will reduce their dependence on imports and their vulnerability to price shocks and supply interruptions.
CIERP’s Energy, Climate, and Innovation (ECI) Program works to develop and promote knowledge that will help national leaders address energy-related challenges, especially global climate change. We have strong focuses on harnessing energy technology innovations to improve human well-being, and on the role of policies in supporting and rewarding innovation. Our outlook is global, but we have a strong concentration on energy and climate policies within the United States and China; the roles that these issues play in Sino-American relations; and how these two countries influence international negotiations on climate change.
Energy Technology Innovation Project, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC), People’s Republic of China
Tsinghua University’s School of Public Policy and Management