PIA 2552: Political Economy of Global Energy

PIA 2552 – Political Economy of Global Energy – 3.0 credits

Shanti Gamper-Rabindran, Associate Professor, GSPIA & Economics (shanti@gspia.pitt.edu)

This course applies concepts and tools from economics, political science and risk analysis to address global energy issues, while cognizant of the state of the science and uncertainties. First, we examine various energy sources in the US/EU/developing countries including oil, gas, nuclear, hydro, biofuels, solar and wind. Specifically, we explore methods to estimate the benefits and costs/risks (economic, environmental, health, political) from various energy sources. We discuss how market forces, market failures, lobbying, and government policies influence the gaps between private and social costs of energy. Second, we examine incentive policies for the adoption of renewable energy (e.g., carbon pricing, cap & trade, renewable portfolio standards, pull-push innovation policies), barriers to their adoption (infrastructure, storage, and intermittency), and overall benefits from restructuring towards a greener economy. Third, we address incentive policies to increase energy efficiency (e.g., fuel economy standards, rebates, LEED certification). Fourth, we examine the role of international trade, investment, technology transfer and climate policy in increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy worldwide. Fifth, we examine the geopolitics of energy sources (e.g. US, EU/Russia, China/Africa, Central Asia & Middle East). We discuss the growing recognition that investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy can mitigate national security concerns stemming from fossil fuel dependency. At the end of this course, students should be able to: (1) Write policy memos with solid arguments and analysis, backed by empirical evidence; (2) Articulate the benefits and costs/risks or different energy sources; (3) Describe how policy tools can internalize external costs of energy (e.g. environmental, health or security costs); and, (4) Describe how policy tools can incentivize shifts towards greater energy efficiency and energy sources with lower environmental footprint.