Future of Energy: Jeffrey Sachs

April 5, 2011 – Hurrying History: Can the World Adopt a Fast Path to Low-Carbon Energy?
Jeffrey Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University; Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development; Professor of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University

The world will eventually transit from the fossil-fuel age to a post-carbon economy. That is inherent in the finite reserves of fossil fuels. Yet the normal transition will be far too slow to avoid ruinous interference in the climate system. Twenty years after the signing of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change the existing political-diplomatic processes have failed to create the needed breakthrough. Jeffrey Sachs will discuss new strategies for large-scale systems change that aim to correct the deep weaknesses of the current framework. His thesis states that new transnational networks of key actors – scientists, engineers, businesses, and civic leaders – must take the lead from governments and diplomats. He will explain how this can be done, with reference to past cases of large-scale systems change.

Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by the year 2015. Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty.

He is widely considered to be the leading international economic advisor of his generation. For more than 20 years Professor Sachs has been in the forefront of the challenges of economic development, poverty alleviation, and enlightened globalization, promoting policies to help all parts of the world to benefit from expanding economic opportunities and wellbeing. He is also one of the leading voices for combining economic development with environmental sustainability, and as Director of the Earth Institute leads large-scale efforts to promote the mitigation of human-induced climate change.

In 2004 and 2005 he was named among the 100 most influential leaders in the world by Time Magazine. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, a high civilian honor bestowed by the Indian Government, in 2007. Sachs lectures constantly around the world and was the 2007 BBC Reith Lecturer. He is author of hundreds of scholarly articles and many books, including the New York Times bestsellers Common Wealth (Penguin, 2008) and The End of Poverty (Penguin, 2005). Sachs is a member of the Institute of Medicine and is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Prior to joining Columbia, he spent over twenty years at Harvard University, most recently as Director of the Center for International Development. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University.