Rapidly advancing technologies hold promise for addressing global warming through removing, storing, and utilizing CO2. Under the right conditions, these technologies could create a new carbon economy larger than that of renewable energy. Unlocking the potential of carbon management requires more than just technological innovation. Research is needed to help build new business models, drive new investment vehicles for public and private capital, and shape new policies at the city, state and national levels.

Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy at the School of International and Public Affairs has launched a major new research initiative to study the public policy, financial and economic aspects of carbon management. CGEP has hired Dr. Julio Friedmann to lead this effort, which complements the world-class research already underway at Columbia's Earth Institute, of which CGEP is an affiliate, on the science and technology around carbon capture, storage and utilization.

This new initiative strengthens Columbia’s academic leadership in the field of carbon dioxide management. Across much of the Earth Institute, faculty and scientists are conducting pioneering research into the removal and sequestration of carbon, particularly in basaltic and ultramafic rocks. This cross-disciplinary work includes the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, and the Center on Global Energy Policy along with colleagues at the School of Engineering and affiliates based outside of Columbia and overseas. Working together, these groups have established a jointly funded “Women in Energy” program and have been organizing a “CO2 utilization roundtable” each year since 2016. The Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law are currently working on a DOE-funded CarbonSAFE project proposing large-scale permanent storage of CO2 in deep ocean basalt formations.

Dr. Friedmann comes to CGEP with a highly distinguished career in carbon management. As Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), his portfolio included R&D and programs in clean coal and carbon management, oil and gas systems, and international engagements in clean fossil energy. His earlier appointment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal and Carbon Management focused on clean coal and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. Prior to his time at DOE, Dr. Friedmann was Chief Energy Technologist for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where his research included smart grid and energy systems analysis, conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons, CCS, geothermal power, renewable power prediction and integration, and supercomputing applications to energy. Earlier, he worked for five years as a senior research scientist at ExxonMobil and as faculty at the University of Maryland.

Experts from across Columbia will serve on a faculty advisory committee, created with the goal of stimulating broad engagement in the initiative across the University. Initial faculty steering committee members include:

  • Dr. Scott Barrett, Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics
  • Professor Jason Bordoff, Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs; Director, Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Professor Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice; Director, Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
  • Dr. David Goldberg, Lamont Research Professor in the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Associate Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
  • Dr. Alex Halliday, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences; Director, Earth Institute
  • Dr. Peter Kelemen, Arthur D. Storke Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • Dr. Alissa Park, Lenfest Chair in Applied Climate Science; Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy

An external advisory committee comprising leaders in the field will also help the initiative remain focused on key issues and opportunities.

“We are thrilled to have Julio, one of the most respected experts in the world on large-scale carbon management, join our team,” said Jason Bordoff, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs and Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy. “Julio's deep expertise and experience across government, industry and the national labs make him a tremendous addition to the Columbia community that is already producing pioneering work in this field."

“CGEP's interdisciplinary focus, global network, and strong track record make it the ideal place to make further progress towards a new carbon economy," said Dr. Friedmann. "I am excited to contribute my expertise to CGEP's mission and to do so in partnership with the distinguished faculty across the schools of Policy, Engineering, Law, Business, Earth Science and others."

Merit Janow, Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, noted “The Center’s work in the important area of carbon management will continue SIPA’s long tradition of research at the leading edge of global public policy. Dr. Friedmann’s varied experience from government, academia, and private industry will benefit our intellectual community in many ways.”

Alex Halliday, the new Director of the Earth Institute, said “The scenarios for how to limit global warming to non-dangerous levels in the decades ahead rely on some form of negative emissions technology. Moving toward that, scientifically and in terms of policy and decision making, is a key priority. It is great to see the Center for Global Energy Policy taking this step. The recruitment of Julio Friedmann to Columbia will provide invaluable leadership in this area.”

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CGEP’s mission is to enable public and private sector leaders to make more informed choices about the world’s most pressing energy issues by providing an independent, interdisciplinary, and nonpartisan platform for insights and data-driven analysis, convening and information-sharing, education and training, and actionable recommendations on the current and future global energy system. We accomplish this using the following key strategies:

  • Produce best-in-class research rooted in academic work, but delivered in formats and on timeframes that are accessible and useful to those outside academia.
  • Provide a global platform to communicate the insights from that research across traditional and new media, public events, and private roundtables, leveraging Columbia’s exceptional faculty and global reach.
  • Train tomorrow’s leaders and communicators by teaching students how to do and apply research, training journalists and others on the key factors influencing the global energy system, and providing opportunities and mentorship to the next generation of energy policy and market leaders.