2009-11 Energy, Environment, Agriculture & Natural Resources m(EENR) Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy
As a post-doctoral geobiologist at Princeton University, Robert “Bob” Kopp examined geological records of past climate change to understand better how the Earth would respond to future changes. Bob craved a first-hand experience in a policy environment to glean how his research could influence key decision makers. And he wanted to get to the forefront of where those decisions were made. An S&T Policy Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was his ticket. The DOE is one of the nation’s leading agencies addressing climate change, in particular by working to expand clean energy and energy efficiency, and Bob’s background was an excellent match for its Office of Climate Change Policy and Technology. As part of this fairly small operation, Bob was able to take a leading role in developing the new Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative and getting it up and running. SEAD, first announced by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in Copenhagen in December 2009, aims to transform the global market for energy-using equipment and appliances, such as televisions and lighting.
Bob helped coordinate the efforts of the U.S. SEAD team, including staff from multiple DOE offices and analysts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Together they reached out to engage other governments and nongovernmental organizations. As a result, Bob had a role in the first Clean Energy Ministerial, convened by Secretary Chu in July 2010 in Washington, D.C. The meeting, which brought together ministers and stakeholders from more than 20 countries to collaborate on policies and programs to accelerate the world’s transition to clean energy technologies, saw the official launch of SEAD and ten other initiatives. “Developing and launching SEAD was a truly rewarding achievement,” said Bob. “The initiative is on track to help its 14 member countries save money and avoid the need for hundreds of power plants over the next two decades.”
Now in his second fellowship year, Bob is continuing to help develop SEAD as a vehicle for transforming the global market for energy-efficient appliances and equipment. Additionally, building on the efforts of a White House-led working group to which he provided technical support during his first year, Bob has been collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Economics and the Office of Air & Radiation to organize workshops focused on methods to incorporate the costs of climate change into regulatory analysis. He hadn’t anticipated the broad range of opportunities and networks the fellowship would provide, including coordinating large projects and engaging in international diplomacy. “I’ve learned to tackle new areas at a bigpicture level,” Bob explained. “Not only has this experience significantly broadened my skill set, it has also deepened my knowledge of climate solutions.”