Energy and Environmental Programs Speaker Series

The Energy and Environmental Programs Speaker Series is a lecture series of the Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) and Energy Policy and Climate (EPC) programs at Johns Hopkins University, Advanced Academic Programs. The Speaker Series features policymakers, representatives from government agencies, leaders in the private sector, researchers, and academics to discuss critical issues in the fields of energy, climate change, and environmental science and policy.

Please contact Jenn da Rosa, Dr. Dan Zachary, or Dr. Jerry Burgess to receive notification of upcoming events.

Fall 2018 Events

  • Place: 1717 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Room: 204
  • Time: 5pm
Date Guest(s) Topic
Event Flyer & Livestream
Sep. 26, 2018 Theresa Williamson, PhD
Founder and Executive Director of Catalytic Communities
Rethinking the Future of Housing Worldwide: Favelas as a Sustainable Model?

Favelas as models of sustainable development? For 18 years Rio de Janeiro NGO Catalytic Communities has been working with favela organizers and jarring the logic that unregulated “slums” are a horrid problem with no solution other than wiping them out or paving them over. CatComm instead advocates that favelas can actually pose solutions to the challenges of urbanization worldwide, not only in the obvious sense of providing affordable housing, but actually in the development models they create through their innately flexible and community-led development approaches. The key to realizing this vision? A practical, asset-based community-controlled development framework.

This presentation offers a deep look at favela qualities and assets from a sustainability orientation, introducing the concept of a Sustainable Favela Indicator (applying sustainable design principles to upgrading favelas); contrasting this to what typically happens in Rio’s favelas; and offering a practical vision of how policy-makers could formally build on favelas’ attributes and provide practical pathways to realizing their potential.



Oct. 11, 2018 Thomas Peterson
CEO and Founder of The Center for Climate Strategies

Avoiding the Inevitable — How to Make Climate Action a Priority



Oct. 25, 2018 Jeremy Lin, PhD
Director of Transmission Analytics
Challenges of Integrating a Large Amount of Renewable Energy Sources into the Power Grid

Concerned by the threat of global warming caused by emission of carbon and other pollutants, there is a growing interest and activities that promote cleaner source of energy. An increasing amount of renewable energy sources (RES) are being added and many more are in the planning stage of being added into the power grid of the US and around the world. While addition of RES into the power grid can bring in some tangible benefits such as reduction of carbon emissions, it also creates many other challenges. Some of those challenges include:
1) increasing uncertainty of net load in the system,
2) negative prices and declining generator profitability,
3) dwindling amount of system inertia from rotating generators, being replaced by RES, and
4) need for increasing amount of robust transmission system to support the integration of large amount of RES.
Those challenges and potential solutions to some of those challenges will be presented in this seminar.



Nov. 8,
Daniel Zachary, PhD
Program Director,
MS in Energy Policy and Climate
What if We Wait? Forecasting Response Time to Environmental Events and Global Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently presented results showing that a unified international effort will be required to keep average global temperatures from raising more than 1.5℃. We turn to historical evidence to see if this is possible. We look at the historical evidence from environmental accidents and natural catastrophes and explore both the cost and the frequencies of events. A new statistical method, the ‘inverse Poisson functional’ is used to study this question. We present the technique, along with calculations from the DICE model (William Nordhaus – 2018 Nobel Laurent in Economics) and compare to IPCC predictions. The model shows that substantial reaction to global climate change (CO2 emissions extremum) will occur in 55 to 120 years (95% CI) with a model prediction of 80 years.



Past Events

Spring 2018 Events
Date Guest Topic
Jan. 18, 2018 Dr. Craig Hart
Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center
Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University
From Paris to Beijing: China Implementation of the Paris Agreement

Feb. 7, 2018 Will Marshall
Progressive Policy Institute
Elusive Consensus: The New Politics of Energy

Mar. 8, 2018 Dr. Sarah Jordaan
Assistant Professor of Energy, Resources, and Environment, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
Global Natural Gas: Market Evolution and Climate Implications

Apr. 4, 2018 Dr. Diana Watts
Research Associate, Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME
Chair, Department of Business, Trinity Washington University
Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Municipal Food Recovery Strategies, Doing Good or Doing Well?: A Preliminary Study of Baltimore, MD

Fall 2017 Events
Date Guest Topic
Sep. 27, 2017 Dr. Christopher Clack
Founder and CEO of Vibrant Clean Energy, LLC
Ockham’s Revenge: The Energy Transition Is Complex

Oct. 19, 2017 Dr. John Cookson
Former Director of the Environmental Sustainability
Major at Notre Dame of Maryland University
Three of the Most Important Environmental Sustainability Issues Facing Our Planet and the Supporting Science

Nov. 13, 2017 Dr. Véronique Bugnion
Co-Founder and CEO of ClearlyEnergy
Optimizing Climate Adaptation

Spring 2017 Events
Date Guest Topic
Feb. 27, 2017 Marcus Sarofim Climate Change and the Intersection of Law, Policy, and Science
Mar. 29, 2017 Rae Wynn-Grant
Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History
Conservation for the Community: Case studies of wildlife protection efforts from the Western US and East Africa
Fall 2016 Events
Date Guest Topic
Nov. 16, 2016 Diego Herrera Garcia
Environmental Defense Fund
Protected Areas’ Deforestation Spillovers and Two Critical Underlying Mechanisms: An Empirical Exploration for the Brazilian Amazon
The creation of protected areas (PAs) has been the dominant policy in the efforts to protect forests. Yet there is still somewhat limited rigorous evidence about the impacts of PAs on rates of deforestation. Furthermore, most of the existing evidence concerns the impacts of protection within the boundaries of PAs. Yet even when impact within a PA has been estimated as rigorously as possible, because the total effect of protection involves impacts both inside and spillovers outside the PA, impact estimates could misstate total impacts. In this study, we start with an examination of local deforestation spillovers from PAs. We follow this with an evaluation of two mechanisms through which PAs could affect forest nearby. In particular, we explore two novel angles by considering both migration choices and road-building decisions. Empirical evidence for the Brazilian Amazon shows that PA creation could shift private and public expectations to lower migration and road building where the PA is established, and reduce deforestation beyond PA boundaries.
Oct. 26, 2016 Diana Watts
Chair and Associate Professor,
Trinity Washington University, College of Arts and Sciences. Department of Business Administration
Hero or Villain: Is there a Case for Sustainable Business?
Business organizations viewed through the lens of “villain” must be held in check through regulation that constrains the operational activities of (global) value chains. This approach typically relies on mechanisms of standards, certification, audits, and reporting. This presentation will address the question of “hero” or can businesses be sustainably managed within the context of ecosystem limits? Three aspects of emerging evidence will be considered: a) voluntary practices or meta-governance; b) the hybrid organization and c) B-Corps businesses. Each suggests possible alternative perspectives that may question the for-profit, neoclassical model. This discussion will provide more a “report from the field” for those interested in entrepreneurship as well as governance policies.

Spring 2016 Events
Date Guest Topic
Mar. 2, 2016 Leslie Paul Thiele
University of Florida
Sustainability Conference
Mar. 10, 2016 Amardeep Dhanju
Johns Hopkins University
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)/Avanti
Offshore Energy Leasing and Development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf

April 14, 2016 Smita Chandra Thomas Building Energy Efficiency Professional
April 28, 2016 Whitney Colella
Energy Services, Arlington VA
Hydrogen, Fuel Cell, and Electrochemical Technologies for Addressing Energy Challenges
Fall 2015 Events
Date Guest Topic
(Pre-recorded) Dr. Liam Phelan
Johns Hopkins University
Adaptation Is Not Enough: Insurers in a Climate Changing World

Sep. 23, 2015 Trinto Mugangu
Ambassador to the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)
Advisor of the GEN-Africa
President of GEN DR-Congo
A Great Green Vision for the Congo

Oct. 10, 2015 Dr. Austin Brown
Johns Hopkins University
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The Climate Opportunities and Risks of Automated Vehicles

Nov. 30, 2015 Craig Glazer
PJM Interconnection, LLC
Looking Backward to Look Forward: A Romp through Restructuring of the Electric Industry
2014-2015 ESP-EPC Faculty Speaker Series
Date Guest Topic
Oct. 10, 2014 Albert Manville
Johns Hopkins University
The Impact on Birds, Bats and their Habitats from Commercial Wind and Solar Energy: Unintended Consequences
Nov. 14, 2014 Thomas Peterson
Johns Hopkins University
The Future of International Climate Change Policy: What We’ve Learned, and What to Expect
Dec. 11, 2014 Eugene Stakhiv
Johns Hopkins University
Hydrodiplomacy: a Tale of Three Rivers
Mar. 27, 2015 Christa Hasenkopf
Johns Hopkins University
Hazy Skies Around the World: The State of Air Pollution Issues, Impacts, and Mitigation Across the Globe
May 1, 2015 Helen Serassio
Johns Hopkins University
Adapting Transportation Infrastructure to a Changing Climate
Other Past Events
Date Guest Topic
Oct. 17, 2013 Lee Lane
Hudson Inst.,
Michael MacCracken
Climate Inst.,
Simon Nicholson
American University
Into the Great Wide Open?: Roundtable on Climate Change Geoengineering
Aug. 7, 2013 Jane Ebinger & Kanta Rigaud
Climate Policy Team, World Bank

Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes & The Case for Resilience
May 23, 2013 Thomas Peterson
CEO, Center for Climate Strategies
Options for Economic, Energy, and Climate Security in the US
Apr. 29, 2013 Amardeep Dhanju
U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
U.S. Offshore Energy Regulatory Framework
Apr. 23, 2013 Matthias Duwe
Ecologic Institute
How to Transform Europe into a Low-Carbon Economy by 2050
Mar. 22, 2013 Lee Lane
Hudson Institute
Institutional Choices for Regulating Oil & Gas Wells
Mar. 15, 2013 Donald Brown
Widener University School of Law
The Role of Equity & Justice in Increasing National GHG Emissions Reduction Commitments under the UNFCCC
Feb. 27, 2013 David M. Driesen
Syracuse University School of Law
Law’s Economic Dynamics & Climate Disruption
Jan. 29, 2013 Andrew Eil
U.S. Department of State
A Second Front in the Climate War: Short-Lived Climate Pollutants and the New Climate & Clean Air Coalition