New Energy Series

Winter 2023 Talks

Wednesday, February 8 | 12-1 p.m.
"Carbon Capital: The Moral Metrics of Energy Finance"

Sean Field, Research Fellow, University of St. Andrews

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About the Talk
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with energy financiers in Houston, Texas, Sean Field explores how experts use a lexicon of models and metrics to conceptualize and construct allegories about future hydrocarbon projects and companies. Dr. Field shows that allegorical narratives built with this lexicon advance a kind of energy ethics – distinguishing what is good and advocating for particular energy futures. As the energy industry pivots toward renewables, Dr. Field argues that these metrics, models and allegories are coming to bear on new forms of extraction. This talk is based on a recent paper, Carbon Capital: The Lexicon and Allegories of US Hydrocarbon Finance.

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Sean Field

About the Presenter
Sean Field is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Energy Ethics and in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews. Since late-2018, his research has focused on how financial professionals ethically and financially value energy. His ethnographic work explores the calculation of risk, the performance of financial expertise, the valuation of energy resources, and the integration of ESG into investment practices. 

A key implication of his research is that the world of finance is central to the materialization of our collective energy and anthropogenic landscapes. Dr. Field's project is part of the larger Energy Ethics research project led by Dr. Mette High and funded by the European Research Council. 

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Wednesday, February 22 | 12- 1 p.m.
"
Early-life Exposure to Clean Cooking Transitions: Impacts on Cognition and Health"
Emily Pakhtigian, Assistant Professor, Penn State

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Between 2007 and 2013, the Indonesian Government instituted a national cooking fuel conversion program, transitioning households away from biomass and kerosene and towards liquid petroleum gas (LPG) through adjustments to kerosene and LPG subsidies. In this talk, Penn State's Emily Pakhtigian will discuss the household and individual impacts of this large-scale cooking transition. In particular, she will focus on the impacts of early-life policy-induced improved indoor air quality on children's cognitive development and health. As countries around the world look to improve climate and health through clean energy transitions, understanding the social impacts of such policies is essential for developing efficient, equitable, and sustainable policies.  

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Emily Pakhtigian

About the Presenter
Emily Pakhtigian's research examines the causes and consequences of human interactions with the natural environment. Her research interests include environmental health, water and sanitation, air pollution, human capital accumulation, and water resource management. Dr. Pakhtigian's recent research includes work to understand the processes by which households adopt and utilize environmental health technologies, the health and educational consequences of ambient air pollution exposure, and the economic implications of water resource management. She has a variety of primary data collection projects related to environmental resource management, water and sanitation, and environmental health information provision. Dr. Pakhtigian's work focuses primarily on contexts in low- and middle-income countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. She also studies applications of domestic environmental policy.

Dr. Pakhtigian holds a Ph.D. in public policy, with a concentration in economics, from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. She has an M.A. in economics from Duke University and B.A.'s in economics and political science from Moravian College.

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Wednesday, March 8 | 12- 1 p.m.
"Productive Uses of Decentralized Renewable Energy"
Vivek Shastry, PhD Student, University of Texas, Austin

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About the Talk
For over a billion households today, electricity is still unavailable, unreliable, or unaffordable. Historically, the use of stand-alone decentralized renewable energy (DRE) for rural electrification primarily focused on powering lights and mobile chargers. In the past decade, the electrification agenda has shifted to a demand-centric approach, focusing on understanding how rural livelihoods, healthcare, and education can be powered by DRE, enabled by a supporting ecosystem. In this talk, Vivek Shastry will present findings from an in-depth field study of rural entrepreneurs in southern India who are using solar powered appliances for a range of rural livelihoods and businesses. Specifically, he explores the market and non-market factors that influence entrepreneurs' access to these solutions, and the mechanisms through which they contribute to building their resilience to future livelihood and climate shocks.

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VIVKEK SHASTRY

About the Presenter
Vivek Shastry is passionate about facilitating inclusive development through sustainable energy solutions. As a doctoral candidate in Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin, his current work explores the intersection of energy access, primary health care, rural livelihoods, and gender. Prior to pursuing his doctorate, he earned master's degrees in Sustainable Design, and Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin and worked with the policy and planning group at SELCO Foundation. He has traveled extensively in rural India and worked on decentralized renewable energy projects from implementation, research, and policy perspectives. 

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PAST TALKS

 Wednesday, January 25 | 12 - 1 p.m.
"Understanding Climate-Economy Impacts and Feedbacks Under Deep Uncertainty"
Christopher Callahan, PhD. student, Dartmouth College 
Moderated by Richard Howarth, Dartmouth Professor of Environmental Studies

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About the Talk
Understanding the economic impacts of climate change is essential to designing climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, but the magnitudes and mechanisms of these impacts are poorly constrained, as are the contributions of individual actors to these impacts. In this talk, Callahan will discuss his research understanding and quantifying the economic growth impacts of extreme climate events, isolating the roles of individual emitters in contributing to historical climate damages using simple climate model simulations, and illustrating coupled feedbacks between climate adaptation and global warming. Collectively, this work aims to build a fuller understanding of the coupled climate-economy system in a warming world.

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CHRIS CALLAHAN

About the Presenter
Chris Callahan is a PhD candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Dartmouth College in the EEES program, working with Dr. Justin Mankin and the Climate Modeling and Impacts Group. His research focuses on the economic and social consequences of climate change. He uses a wide range of tools, from simple and complex climate models to econometric regression techniques, to understand the relationship between extreme climate events and outcomes such as human health and economic growth. His work aims to inform policy discussions over climate mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage funding, as well as decisionmaking tools such as the social cost of carbon.

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About the Series

New Energy: Conversations with Early-Career Energy Researchers is an online series featuring graduate, post-doctoral, and other early-career researchers sharing their discoveries and perspectives on energy-related topics. From policy to analysis to emerging technology, this bi-weekly series will give anyone interested in energy the opportunity to learn from the rising stars in the field. 

All events in this series take place via Zoom.