Ken Gillingham's Solar Panel Project

Earlier this month, Ken Gillingham’s paper on “Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovolactic Panels” was accepted at Marketing Science, which is often considered the top journal in marketing. There are some interesting results regarding how one’s neighbors influence the decision to install a solar panel, and I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the exciting interdisciplinary work going on here in action.  Gillingham joined the F&ES faculty as an Assistant Professor of Economics during the summer of 2011, and his research interests include environmental and energy economics, transportation economics, econometrics, and energy and climate policy modeling. He covers some very relevant and interesting issues that you may not immediately think of as residing within F&ES, and…

Communiqué from Exile in the Athlete's Arena

My official accreditation ran out on June 19th (long story), barring me access to Riocentro. SO for the past three days, I have been seeking my fortunes in the Athlete’s Arena across the street (What can I say? The U.N. has no mercy for those who get their paperwork wrong).

This seemed a miserable fate initially, but my fears of exclusion were entirely in error. After three days of wandering the arena, I have seen speeches up-close from U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, UNFF Director Jan McAlpine, and indigenous leaders from the Amazon.

There are also tanks…

President of Marshall Islands at Plenary Opening

plenary opening day 2

I was really fortunate to participate in the plenary opening meeting yesterday afternoon, on behalf of the Marshall Islands (RMI), which I interned at their permanent mission in New York over the past semester. As I sat there with three ministers of the RMI (foreign affairs, environment and transportation), senior advisor of climate change and two escorts behind the president, Mr. Christopher Loeak, it struck me that this is a once-in-a-life-time experience: to be able to assist one of the most vulnerable small island states on a national, regional, and now international level.

plenary opening day 2

The RMI…

While there are lots of side events going on in Rio Centro and the Athletes Park across the street, there have also been numerous events spread across the city.  The International Institute for Environment and Development (iied) organized a conference called Fair Ideas: sharing solutions for a sustainable planet which brought together scholars, practitioners and business leaders around the whole range of sustainable development issues being discussed at the conference.

The opening plenary included the heads and representatives from UNEP, IUCN, iied, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Oxfam which provided a window into the current vision of major development organizations.  It also demonstrated the dominance of economics within the conversations in Rio.   The head of IIED, Camilla Toulmin called for a new evaluation method other than GDP, one that…

Is anyone listening?


By far the most passionate and provoking speech at the plenary this past evening was given by the president of Uruguay.  While most other heads of state echoed routine statements about their support for sustainable development, a green economy, poverty eradication, and how impressed they were with the outcomes of the conference, President Jose Mujica spoke to his colleagues, not at them, and raised questions that none of the other participants were willing to voice.

President Mujica noted that while poverty eradication and sustainable development are laudable goals, we are constrained by the processes of production and consumption that we have created for ourselves.  That if we all aim for a type of lifestyle that only a small portion of the global population can sustain, and if…

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro on Monday June 11th at midnight was very exciting. I knew that soon the entire world would have its eyes on this city following the U.N Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20. Few cars were on the streets as I left the airport and the highway was wide and nicely paved reminding me of the roads leaving JFK in New York.

Soon however instead of heading to the beautifully developed and famous regions of Copacabana, Ipanema, or Leblon I found  myself heading west towards a neighborhood called Engenho Novo in the heart of the city. I had arranged with a family friend to stay with them prior to the actual summit so that I can experience Rio from a local perspective.

In the…

Governors and Major Groups of Legal Amazon Made a Commitment to Implement New Policy

14:00, 21-06-2012, Brazil


The Forum of the Governor of the Amazon Region and the Representatives of the Major Groups delivered the outcome document of  the Sustainable Development Encounter of the Brazilian Amazon Region at Rio+20 conference.

Governors of Legal Amazon (Amazon states) prepared a letter for the Rio+20 high level plenary to propose implementation mechanisms for new forest policy. Among hundreds of proposals that have been proposed so far, the governors of Amazon States finally came to a conclusion after stakeholder consultation process.

The majority of the groups mentioned here are those Acknowledged by the UN, namely: Industry and Business, Children and Youth, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Local Governments, NGOs, Scientific and Technological Community, Women, Workers and Trade Unions, as well as the new group established for the…