Complexity & The Politics of the Green Energy Transition

September 24, 2020
4:30pm - 6:00pm

An increasing sense of urgency about climate change seems to be fueling momentum for national policies designed to hasten a transition to a net zero carbon economy. A rapid green transition is a massive and complex task, entailing difficult tradeoffs and value choices that are not featuring as prominently in the policy debate as one might expect. In this presentation, Professor Spence will explore these tradeoffs, the troubling reasons why we under-attend to them in today’s policy debates, and how they are likely to become important hurdles to overcome when cobbling together a legislative majority in favor of meaningful, durable climate action.

Note: Participants should attend on a laptop or tablet; the visual portions of the presentation may be difficult to view on a small screen.

This is a Climate Week event co-hosted by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, and the Business, Climate and Environment Lab of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania.


David B Spence Headshot

David B Spence

University of Texas School of Law Baker Botts Chair in Law

Professor of Business, Government & Society at UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business. Professor Spence’s research and teaching focuses on government regulation of the energy industry: broadly defined to include economic and environmental regulation of the entire energy sector. He is co-author of the leading energy law textbook, Energy, Economics and the Environment (Foundation Press, 5th Ed., 2019), and one of the principals behind, a web site featuring research that addresses the complexity and tradeoffs associated with the green energy transition. Prof. Spence earned his Ph.D in political science from Duke University, his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and his B.A. from Gettysburg College.


Sarah Light

Sarah E. Light

Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics

Sarah Light is Associate Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics in the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and co-lead for the Business, Climate and Environment Lab of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.  Her expertise includes climate law and policy, environmental law and policy, private environmental governance, corporate sustainability, and business innovation.