Energy, Environment, and Sustainability

Preserving resources for the next generation.

From clean energy solutions to greener, more liveable cities, our scholars, students and alumni are committed to fostering the knowledge, policy, and entrepreneurial innovations to improve the sustainability of the planet we all share.

Carbon Tax Policies


The human cost of climate change

“If carbon emissions continue on their current path, asylum applications to the European Union will nearly triple by the year 2100.” That’s the prediction of Professor Wolfram Schlenker, an economist at SIPA and Columbia’s Earth Institute.

His research with PhD student Anouch Missirian of SIPA’s program in sustainable development links the current refugee crisis to rising temperatures. Their 2017 paper examined weather patterns in the countries of origin for asylum applications between 2000 and 2014, demonstrating that weather shocks in 103 countries around the globe directly influenced migration into Europe.


Can a carbon tax help slow climate change?

Climate change presents serious threats to the economy, the environment, and national security. To address this challenge, a growing number of influential businesses, scientists, NGOs, and others are calling for a carbon tax on CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

The prospects of a U.S. carbon tax may seem unlikely to some, but circumstances can change quickly. In the meantime, SIPA’s Center on Global Energy Policy is preparing comprehensive policy analysis so that policymakers can make informed decisions when the opportunity arises.


A startup that harnesses the sun

When night falls in Sierra Leone, millions must either sit in darkness or use expensive, polluting kerosene or battery-powered torchlights to work, cook, and read. Now the startup company Easy Solar is providing a better alternative: low-cost, solar-powered energy.

The founders met as students at SIPA and went on to win several venture competitions. With 10 full-time staff pushing the company’s strategy on the ground, Easy Solar recently passed the milestone of 10,000 products sold—meaning that 50,000 residents are benefiting from their innovation.