Past Event

Global Seminar Series I: Energy and Climate Challenge in Emerging Asia

March 18, 2021
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.



Time: 8:00 - 9:30 PM (Beijing) | 8:00 - 9:30 AM (New York) | 1:00 - 2:30 PM (Paris) | 5:30 - 7:00 PM (Mumbai)

Columbia Global Centers and Columbia SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy are pleased to invite Columbia students to attend a seminar series that highlights and discusses common climate change challenges across East Asia as well as differences between countries, with a hope to enhance students' understanding via in-depth comparative analyses of the related issues, and train their analytical and research skills.

The first session will introduce students to the relationship between economic growth, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In this light, we will review the history of Asia’s economic emergence and what it has meant for global energy markets and GHG emissions. We will then turn to the future, highlighting the centrality of Asia to a successful global clean energy transition.

We will also review the history of emerging Asian countries in the global climate change negotiation, highlighting the change in approach from the Kyoto (1997) regime to the Paris (2015) one.

*This event is open to Columbia University students only. Please sign up with your Columbia email.



Dr. Pierre Noël is a Global Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy. His research interests sit at the intersections between international energy markets and public policy choices.

He has worked on energy security policy in Europe, with special reference to Russiadependent central and eastern European countries. He specialized in changing natural gas market structures and how they impacted policy choices.

Since 2013, Dr Noel has worked extensively on energy and environmental policy strategies in emerging Asia. He has focused on the economic and political drivers of the competition between coal, LNG and renewables, in a context of growing concerns about the local and global environment.

Prior to joining CGEP, Dr Noël was a Senior Fellow in Economic and Energy Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), based successively in Singapore and London; before that, he was a Senior Research Associate with the Energy Policy Research Group (EPRG) at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge (UK).


Laszlo Varro is the Chief Economist at International Energy Agency. He has worked at the IEA since 2011, became the Agency’s Chief Economist at the start of 2016, succeeding Fatih Birol, who took over as IEA Executive Director in September 2015.

As Chief Economist, Mr. Varro leads the Economics and Investment Office (EIO), a newly created group within the IEA that aims to offer sound and consistent energy economics and methodological support for the Agency’s work. EIO also provides strategic support for the Executive Director’s agenda. Prior to assuming his new role, Mr Varro served as IEA Head of Gas, Coal and Power Markets.

In this post he was responsible for gas market and supply security analysis, LNG markets, gas market reforms and infrastructure policy. He led the Electricity Security Action Plan, the IEA work programme that provides comprehensive coverage of the policy, market design, infrastructure regulation and investment aspects of maintaining electricity security during the transition to a low-carbon power system.

Before joining the IEA, Mr Varro was the Director for Strategy Development at MOL Group. From 2000 to 2005, he worked as the Head of Price Regulation at the Hungarian Energy Office. A Hungarian national, Mr Varro started his career at the National Bank of Hungary after completing his graduate degree at the University of Cambridge and the Corvinus University of Budapest.



David Sandalow is the Inaugural Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and co-Director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He founded and directs the Center’s U.S.-China Program and is author of the Guide to Chinese Climate Policy. During Fall 2019, he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University.

Mr. Sandalow has served in senior positions at the White House, State Department and U.S. Department of Energy. He came to Columbia from the U.S. Department of Energy, where he served as Under Secretary of Energy (acting) and Assistant Secretary for Policy & International Affairs. Prior to serving at DOE, Mr. Sandalow was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He has served as Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment & Science and a Senior Director on the National Security Council staff.


About the Program

Emerging Asian economies (China, India and Southeast Asia) are large, heavily reliant on coal and grow fast. In the past few decades, rapid economic growth in emerging Asia has led to a dramatic increase in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The trend is likely to continue. Major projections such as those by the IEA predict that emerging Asia will be a major driver of global energy consumption and GHG emissions between now and 2050. Therefore, the energy transition in emerging Asia is an essential part of the global effort to decouple economic output from GHG emissions, hence mitigate the risk of catastrophic climate change.

This global effort now takes place within the framework of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which mandates governments to define and implement national plans, consistent with a global objective of keeping average temperature increase under 2 degrees celsius, with an aspiration to +1.5 degrees.

The COVID-19 crisis provides governments with an opportunity to accelerate investment into green technologies and infrastructure. In some countries however, COVID-19 will also leave a legacy of severe fiscal stress and high unemployment, leading to the environment and climate taking a back-seat in policy decisions. Therefore, the purpose of this seminar series is to introduce students to the situation and key drivers of energy policy in emerging Asian countries, in the context of the global drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Through a series of short cohesive lectures, panel discussions with guest experts and Q&As, students will be equipped to understand key questions in the theme, including but not limited to:

  • The overall energy situation of emerging Asian countries
  • How governments approach the clean energy transition
  • What are the critical trade-offs they face
  • The economic and non-economic drivers of decision-making in regional energy policy.


Upcoming Events

Global Seminar Series II: April
Energy and Climate Change Policies in China

Global Seminar Series III: May
Energy and Climate Change Policies in India

Global Seminar Series IV: June
Energy and Climate Change Policies in Southeast Asia