This is an overview of energy and related environmental activites at Harvard prepared by the Consortium for Energy Policy Research. The programs and activities listed here are independent efforts within the University, not directed or funded by the Consortium or its funders except where specifically noted.
The Arctic Initiative strives to increase understanding and improve policies to respond to what is happening in the changing Arctic region by initiating new research; by convening policy makers, scientists, and politicians; and by developing a new generation of public and private officials with a much greater knowledge of the factors that are affecting the Arctic ecosystems and their implications for the environmental, social, and economic systems around the globe.
Based at Harvard Business School, the Business & Environment Initiative (BEI) seeks to deepen understanding of environmental challenges confronting business leaders and inspire new ideas and practical, effective solutions.
BEI serves as a hub for environmentally focused research, study, and discourse at HBS. By building a community of faculty, students, alumni, and practitioners, BEI catalyzes new research and disseminates findings. (Michael Toffel, Faculty Chair; Jennifer Nash, Director)
The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health transforms science into meaningful actions that will deliver a healthier, more just, and sustainable world. Led by Director Gina McCarthy, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, and Co-Directors Joseph Allen and Aaron Bernstein, C-CHANGE calls attention to the impacts of climate change on people’s health and the solutions to address it. The Center ensures that government officials, business leaders, and the public have access to the best science so they can understand the health and environmental challenges they face, why it matters to them, and how they can get engaged. (Gina McCarthy, Director, and Joseph Allen and Aaron Bernstein, Co-Directors)
The Consortium for Energy Policy Research, based at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, works in cooperation with the Harvard University Center for the Environment to promote and support Harvard’s energy policy research. The goal of the Consortium is to help Harvard University reach its full potential for research and impact in energy policy by supporting activities that promote outreach, education, communication and capacity-building in the energy policy area. (William Hogan, Faculty Director; Louisa Lund, Program Director)
Harvard Law School’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic offers Harvard Law School students—and students from other disciplines across the University campus—an opportunity to do real-life and real-time legal and policy work on local, national and international projects covering a broad spectrum of environmental and energy-related issues, including climate change mitigation and adaptation; development of and access to renewable energy; protection of the Arctic, national monuments, and national parks; safe transportation of oil and gas; carbon capture and sequestration; environmental and energy justice; promotion of citizen science; and development and implementation of litigation strategies for a variety of clients. The Clinic does much of its work on behalf of or in partnership with government entities and public interest clients. Depending on the project, students may undertake litigation and advocacy work by drafting briefs, preparing testimony, conducting research, developing strategies for legal reform and/or litigation, commenting on proposed regulations, drafting model legislation, and/or preparing white papers advocating for legal reform.
For example, in January 2017, the Clinic filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in support of EPA’s mercury and air toxics standards for power plants on behalf of SEAS Professor Elsie Sunderland and eight other scientists. In June 2017, the Clinic filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on behalf of five former Massachusetts attorneys general to refute Exxon Mobil’s claim that the Attorney General should not be allowed to use a civil investigative demand to compel Exxon to release information regarding its climate change-related disclosures. In October 2017, the Clinic led a national workshop on the role of citizen science in environmental monitoring and enforcement, examining case studies of successful projects as well as legal and practical barriers for citizen scientists featuring a manual created by the Clinic to support citizen scientists. The Clinic’s manual is at https://citizenscienceguide.com/homepage. In December 2017, the Clinic released a white paper recommending ways Congress should address climate change in the Farm Bill, both during the current authorization process and in the future. In August 2018, the Clinic submitted two sets of comments to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing the proposed rule, Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, on grounds that the rule will undermine protection of public health. The Clinic prepared one set of comments on behalf of the President of Harvard University, several Harvard Deans, the President of Massachusetts General Hospital, and numerous faculty across the university as well as doctors at the Harvard-affiliated research hospitals. The Clinic wrote a second set of comments on behalf of itself and several other environmental law clinics.
In Spring 2018, Clinic Director Wendy Jacobs taught the second year of a new, cross-campus course entitled Climate Solutions Living Lab, in which advanced students from multiple disciplines across Harvard University collaborate to design and study practical solutions for reducing the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. and reducing emissions of potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) from a variety of activities including farming, housing, heating, and energy generation. The course emphasizes solutions to help low-income, under-served populations improve their living conditions using power generated by renewable sources of fuel as well as identifying innovative legal and financing pathways for such projects. Both the Clinic and the Climate Solutions Living Lab offer students a multi-disciplinary experience and welcome students from other Harvard schools (and MIT and Tufts) to cross-register. (Wendy B. Jacobs, Emmett Clinical Professor of Environmental Law and Director).
The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Environment and Natural Resources Program (ENRP) is at the center of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research and outreach on public policy that affects global environmental quality and natural resource management. ENRP’s energy policy work includes its ongoing role in the joint oversight of the Belfer Center’s energy policy projects: the Geopolitics of Energy Project; the Environment, Energy, and Sustainability in China research project; and the Arctic Initiative. ENRP’s outreach activities include a discussion paper series; special events such as seminars, workshops, and films; and robust student support programs. (Henry Lee, Director; William Clark, Faculty Chair; Amanda Sardonis, Assistant Director)
The Harvard Environmental & Energy Law Program (EELP) provides real world legal analysis for today’s environmental and energy challenges. We promote creative problem solving and productive engagement through rigorous legal research, and outreach to decision-makers, stakeholders, media, and the public. EELP works on multiple fronts, such as:
- Electricity Law and Policy
- Tracking Environmental Deregulation and the Undermining of EPA’s Mission
- Unconventional Oil and Gas Production
- Climate Change and the Clean Air Act
Across these issue areas, decision-makers are faced with challenges posed by technological advances, restructured electricity markets, and climate change. These dynamic situations require innovative, nimble responses that at the same time are grounded in a thoughtful policy framework.
Under the direction of Rohini Pande, EPoD’s Environmental Regulation Group uses rigorous field studies and secondary data to examine the regulation of energy and the environment in India. The group’s research explores a number of topics in this area, including the implementation of a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) to measure real-time particulate matter pollution, the environmental clearance process for capital investment projects, the distributional impacts of coal-fired thermal power generation, the effect of sharing information on air pollution ratings on emissions, and the take-up and health benefits of efficient cook stoves. Sample publications include Lower Pollution, Longer Lives: Life Expectancy Gains if India Reduced Particulate Matter Pollution (Economic & Political Weekly, 2015) and Truth Telling by Third Party Auditors and the Response of Polluting Firms: Experimental Evidence from India(Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2013). The group has also produced an interactive case on the CEMS project in order to share learnings on translating research into successful policy implementation. In addition to research, the Environmental Regulation Group trains environmental and energy policymakers in the use of data and evidence for more effective policymaking. (Rohini Pande, Faculty Director)
The Geopolitics of Energy Project, based in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, explores the intersection of energy, security, and international politics. The Project aims to improve our understanding of how energy demand and supply shape international politics–and vice versa. It also endeavors to inform policymakers and students about major challenges to global energy security and, where possible, to propose new ways of thinking about and addressing these issues. The Project focuses on both conventional and alternative energies, as both will influence and be influenced by geopolitical realities. (Meghan O’Sullivan, Director)
The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) is dedicated to research that drives the development of new design strategies for sustainable building and planning. Through long-term multidisciplinary research, the CGBC addresses the global environmental challenge of climate change by focusing on buildings, which account for the vast majority of energy use and carbon pollution throughout the world. The CGBC’s goal is to transform the building industry by developing new processes, systems, and products that lead to more sustainable, high-performance buildings and an enhanced way of life for people in the built environment.
Established at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), the CGBC draws on the extensive resources of the university, engaging prominent thinkers and practitioners from the fields of architecture, design, engineering, landscape, and urban planning, as well as economics, business, public health, and law. (Ali Malkawi, Founding Director; Richard Freeman, Founding Co-Director)
The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA), based at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is a multidisciplinary group of faculty, research staff, students, and visiting scholars who work together to improve decisions about environmental health. HCRA’s work draws on diverse disciplines, including epidemiology, toxicology, environmental science and engineering, decision theory, cognitive psychology, applied mathematics, statistics, and economics. Areas of practical application related to energy policy include the analysis of risks from climate change and from air pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone and mercury. (James Hammitt and Joel Schwartz, Directors)
The interdisciplinary Harvard-China Project, based in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), conducts peer-reviewed research on China’s economy, energy, atmospheric environment (both air pollution and greenhouse gases), and environmental health. The Project pursues two collaborative mandates: crossing disciplines and schools at Harvard and integrating Harvard-based research efforts with work by affiliates at Chinese universities. It has built up research capacities in a range of fields: atmospheric transport and chemistry modeling; atmospheric measurement at a station near Beijing operated jointly with Tsinghua University; bottom-up assessment of air pollution and GHG emissions; investigation of renewable and low-carbon power potentials, including grid integration; general equilibrium modeling of China’s economy and energy use; modeling health impacts of pollution exposures; analyses of urban transport, land use, and environment; and integrated assessment of costs and benefits of national policies to control emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. (Michael B. McElroy, Chair; Chris P. Nielsen, Executive Director; Dale W. Jorgenson, Mun S. Ho, Jing Cao, Sumeeta Srinivasan, J. William Munger, John Evans, James K. Hammitt, and Xinyu Chen, Harvard-based lead investigators of current studies. Other elements are led by researchers at Chinese universities funded by the Project.)
The Harvard-China Project: China 2030/2050
This effort of the Harvard-China Project promotes collaborative research across disciplines and between Harvard and Chinese institutions on climate-related challenges, sponsored as the first anchor grant of the Harvard Global Institute (HGI) under Harvard President Drew Faust. The program includes a range of studies spanning atmospheric and climate science, energy science, economics, environmental health, history, law, and policy. It currently involves 17 faculty members from five Harvard schools and a similar number of collaborating professors in China. The program includes two major field projects: expansion of an atmospheric measurement station established in 2004 with Tsinghua University, and a household survey of transportation behavior, air quality, and environmental health valuation in the city of Chengdu involving Peking University and Nanjing University. Coordinating with the Harvard Center Shanghai, the HGI’s base in China, it also includes a number of research symposia held in China and at Harvard, a summer short course for a select cohort of Harvard and Chinese student participants, and occasional university-wide public lectures. (Michael B. McElroy and Dale W. Jorgenson, Faculty Chairs; Chris P. Nielsen, Executive Director)
Harvard Electricity Policy Group
The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government’s Harvard Electricity Policy Group (HEPG) provides a forum for the analysis and discussion of important policy issues facing the electricity industry. Founded in 1993, its objectives are to study, analyze and engage discourse on the problems associated with the transition from monopoly to a more competitive electricity market. With the involvement of scholars, market participants, regulators, policymakers, and advocates for various positions and interests, HEPG seeks to foster more informed, highly focused open debate in order to contribute to the wider public policy agenda affecting the electric sector. Through research, information dissemination, and regular seminars, HEPG facilitates discussion that leads to the development of new ideas or an expansion of the debate. Participants include electricity industry executives from public power and investor-owned utilities, independent power producers, consumer advocates, regulators, energy officials from both state and federal governments, representatives of the environmental and financial communities, and academics. (William Hogan, Research Director; Ashley Brown, Executive Director; Jo-Ann Mahoney, Program Director)
Harvard Environmental Economics Program
The Harvard Environmental Economics Program (HEEP) is a University-wide initiative that develops innovative answers to today’s complex environmental issues by providing a venue to bring together faculty and graduate students from across Harvard engaged in research, teaching, and outreach in environmental, natural resource, and energy economics and related public policy. HEEP is based in the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. The Program sponsors research projects, convenes workshops, and supports graduate education to further understanding of critical issues in environmental, natural resource, and energy economics and policy around the world. HEEP’s Faculty Fellows are economists in six Harvard schools who focus in whole or in part on environmental issues. HEEP regularly releases Discussion Papers—almost all of which are authored by Faculty Fellows—that are available on its web site. HEEP Pre-Doctoral Fellows conduct a weekly luncheon at which they present their own recent research. Since the mid-1990s, Robert Stavins of Harvard Kennedy School and Martin Weitzman of the Department of Economics have led a separate, open seminar on environmental economics on Wednesday afternoons, hosting distinguished guest speakers. (Robert Stavins, Director; Robert Stowe, Executive Director)
Harvard Graduate Consortium on Energy and Environment
Founded in 2009 by the Harvard University Center for the Environment, the Harvard Graduate Consortium on Energy and Environment was developed to foster a new community of doctoral students who will be well versed in the broad, interconnected issues of energy and environment while maintaining their focus in their primary discipline. Current Harvard PhD, ScD, or DDes students may apply to the program. Once admitted to the Consortium, students are required to take three courses designed to provide them with an introduction to critical aspects of energy issues and to participate in a weekly reading seminar that provides an overview of the energy field from a wide range of perspectives. Through debate and dialogue in coursework and seminars, students will be able to identify the obstacles, highlight the opportunities, and define the discussion of an energy strategy for the 21st century and beyond. Currently there are approximately 40 students from five schools enrolled in the Graduate Consortium. (Michael Aziz, Faculty Coordinator; Eric Simms, Educational Programs Manager)
Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
The goal of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is to help identify and advance scientifically sound, economically rational, and politically pragmatic public policy options for addressing global climate change. Drawing upon leading thinkers in Argentina, Australia, China, Europe, India, Japan, and the United States, the Harvard Project’s research focuses in part on the architecture, key design elements, and institutional dimensions of a new international regime based on the 2015 Paris Agreement. This research is presented in 93 Discussion Papers (as of December 2016) and numerous other publications available on the Project’s web site. The Project is based jointly in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School. (Robert Stavins, Director; Robert Stowe, Co-Director)
The Harvard University Center for the Environment
By connecting scholars and practitioners from different disciplines, the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) seeks to raise the quality of environmental research and education at Harvard while fostering linkages and partnerships amongst different parts of the University as well as between the University and the outside world. With 250 faculty associates, the Center has one of the largest and most varied faculty communities on campus. The Center’s ongoing programs support innovative faculty and post-doctoral research, provide research opportunities (independent and with faculty) and course offerings for undergraduates, bring compelling visiting scholars and lecturers to campus, and connect faculty and students from across the University through sponsored events. (Daniel Schrag, Director; Peter Huybers, Co-Director; James Clem, Managing Director)
Program on Science, Technology & Society
Science and technology permeate every aspect of our lives, from the most private decisions about reproduction and medical treatment to the most public choices concerning risk, development, security, and the quality and sustainability of the human environment. Virtually every dilemma that confronts people and governments in contemporary societies demands significant engagement with science and technology. The Program on Science, Technology & Society at the Harvard Kennedy School provides unique resources for coping with the resulting challenges for scientific and technological innovation, civil liberties, informed citizenship, and democratic government. (Sheila Jasanoff, Director)
Project on Managing the Atom
The Project on Managing the Atom (MTA), based in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, brings together scholars and practitioners who conduct policy-relevant research on key issues affecting the future of nuclear weapons, the nuclear proliferation regime, and nuclear energy. A major focus of MTA research and policy engagement is how nuclear energy could be made as safe, secure, and proliferation-resistant as possible—and how the problem of radioactive waste can be successfully addressed. The Project communicates its findings through publications and through direct testimony and briefings for policymakers. The Project sponsors an interdisciplinary, international group of resident fellows and a weekly research seminar. (Matthew Bunn, Henry Lee, and Steven Miller, Co-Principal Investigators; Martin Malin, Executive Director)
Regulatory Policy Program
The Regulatory Policy Program (RPP) serves as a catalyst and clearinghouse for the study of regulation across Harvard University. The program's objectives are to cross-pollinate research, spark new lines of inquiry, and increase the connection between theory and practice. Through seminars, symposia, and working papers, RPP explores themes that cut across regulation in its various domains: market failures and the public policy case for government regulation, the efficacy and efficiency of various regulatory instruments, and the most effective ways to foster transparent and participatory regulatory processes. (Joseph Aldy, Faculty Chair)
Science, Technology and Public Policy Program
The Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program (STPP) is a research, teaching, and outreach program of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Solutions to many of the world's most challenging problems involve complex scientific and technological issues. Good policy making in these areas requires access to the frontier of scientific knowledge, not simply to translate scientific information, but to bring an appreciation for the potential and the limitations of scientific understanding, blending scientific insights with those from other relevant disciplines including economics and politics. From the nuclear negotiations with Iran to privacy concerns about big data, current events remind us how scientific knowledge has become essential to good policy making, whether at local, national, or international scales.
Bringing science and technology into the design of public policy has been the tradition and the objective of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) at Harvard Kennedy School for nearly four decades. Founded by the late Harvey Brooks, STPP has earned an international reputation for integrating scientific expertise with practical experience in politics and policy. Past leaders of the program, including John Holdren, science advisor to President Obama, and Venkatesh Narayanamurti, former dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, have developed research groups focused on critical issues of national security, energy, and climate, including nuclear proliferation and energy technology innovation. Under the new direction of Dan Schrag, STPP continues to contribute to the unique role that Harvard Kennedy School plays in the broader university, "training public leaders, and generating ideas that provide solutions to our most challenging public problems." (Daniel Schrag and John Holdren, Co-Directors)
Sustainability Science Program
The Sustainability Science Program, based at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government in the Harvard Kennedy School, promotes the design of institutions, policies, and practices that support sustainable development. It does so by advancing scientific understanding of human-environment systems, improving connections between research and policy communities, and building capacity for linking knowledge with action to promote sustainability. The Program’s approach is multidisciplinary, engaging people from the natural, social, medical and engineering sciences, and from practical field experience in business, government, and civil society. (William Clark, Henry Lee, Michael Kremer, Co-Directors)
Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure
The mission of the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure, housed at the Graduate School of Design, is to research, develop and promote methods, processes, and tools that define and quantify sustainability for cities and infrastructures. The Zofnass Program, in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, has developed the Envision® rating system for assessing infrastructure sustainability. The Zofnass Program, advised by an Industry Board, conducts research on the infrastructure sectors of energy, water, waste, transportation, landscape, and information. The program approaches infrastructure as a systemic interrelationship of networks where both individual infrastructure systems and the synergies between them are analyzed to achieve a holistic approach to sustainability. Current work includes the Zofnass Planning Guidelines for sustainable city planning; the Zofnass Economic Process Tool, a platform to quantify the cost of sustainable options and sustainability externalities in infrastructure projects; the Infrastructure 360 Awards in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, a voluntary recognition, analysis and benchmarking program for infrastructure sustainability in Latin America; and urban water management for sustainable projects. (Prof. Spiro N. Pollalis, Program Director; Andreas Georgoulias, Research Director; Judith Rodriguez, Administrative Director)