Past Event

After the Joe Biden Election: Which Reset for Climate Policy?

March 29, 2021
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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A joint event by Sciences Po Atelier Interdisciplinaire de Recherche sur l’Environnement [AIRE], the Global Energy Centre at the School of International Public Affairs (SIPA), and the Earth Institute at Columbia University in the City of New York, and Alliance.


Jonathan Elkind, Fellow and Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

President Biden has signaled the high degree of attention he plans to devote to climate solutions, identifying climate change as one of the "four historic crises" facing the United States today. In a bitterly divided American politics, however, what tools will be within reach? How can the Biden Administration foster momentum and avoid the vicious cycle that has plagued Washington in the past several decades -- with periods of progress and backsliding taking alternating turns, one after another?

From 2009 to 2014, Jonathan Elkind worked at the U.S. Department of Energy, serving ultimately as Assistant Secretary for International Affairs. Earlier, he created Eastlink Consulting, an independent energy consultancy. Elkind also worked previously at the Brookings Institution, the Joint Global Change Research Institute, the U.S. National Security Council, the Office of the Vice President of the United States, and the Council on Environmental Quality. Elkind serves as a board director for Infineon Technologies LLC, a global semiconductor producer. He holds an MBA from the University of Maryland, an MA from Columbia University, and an AB from the University of Michigan.

Scott Barrett, Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) & Earth Institute, Columbia University. Vice Dean, SIPA.

For more than thirty years, diplomats have tried to build an international regime that would limit CO2 concentrations. And, yet, over this same period, concentrations have kept on rising. The United States has been an erratic player in this game, at times leading, at other times stymieing efforts to reduce emissions. Meanwhile, the United States's influence has waned. Success in the global effort to stabilize concentrations still requires US leadership, but US leadership is neither reliable nor sufficient. Doing better requires a new multilateral approach, one that changes the incentives for every country to act, the United States included.

Scott Barrett is the Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics at Columbia University in
New York City with appointments in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Earth Institute. He is also Vice Dean at SIPA. His research focuses on strategies for achieving international cooperation on a range of issues, from climate change to infectious disease eradication. He has played a number of roles in the policy arena, including as lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as senior lead advisor to the International Task Force on Global Public Goods, and, most recently, as a member of the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group on malaria eradication. Among other publications, he is the author of Environment and Statecraft: The Strategy of Environmental Treaty-Making and Why Cooperate? The Incentive to Supply Global Public Goods, both published by Oxford University Press. He received his PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Brendan Devlin, Strategy and Foresight Counsellor, European Commission, Directorate General for Energy.

The European Union is among the World-leading actors promoting the protection of the environment and the fight against global warming. An active proponent of multilateralism, it played a significant role in designing the climate regime set with the Paris agreement in 2015, and took ambitious international and domestic commitments for energy transition. The EU is also strongly related to the US by intense trade, technological and strategic relationships. Will the election of Joe Biden open a new era in EU-US energy and climate relations?

Brendan Devlin is the Strategy and Foresight Counsellor in the Directorate General for Energy, European Commission. In addition to giving strategic advice, his work focuses on methane emissions reductions, short- lived climate pollutants, supply chain integrity and transformation of international and national oil and gas companies. He has extensive experience in leading negotiations to forge energy international agreements for the EU, including in the North Sea, the Balkans, the Caspian Sea and the Southern Gas Corridor, Iran, and participated for several years to the EU-US Summits.

By training, Mr Devlin is a lawyer and economist. He worked as a journalist before entering the Commission, writing in the UK national press and as an editor on a specialist political/economic journal. He has also worked in a Fortune 500 company and as teacher of political economy at the London School of Economics.


Richard Balme, Professor, Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics, Sciences Po.