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Princeton University Undergraduate Task Force on

Energy for Sustainable Development

Professor Denise Mauzerall, Woodrow Wilson School, 2006

"Achieving sustainable development goals requires energy use and industrial development but, in turn, they are major contributors to air pollution, atmospheric problems and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Despite some progress in diversifying the energy supply, fossil- fuel based energy resources will continue to play a dominant role in the supply mix for the foreseeable future. Efforts to develop cleaner energy methods, technologies, including advanced fossil fuel technologies, and measures are important for achieving Agenda 21 and Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) goals.

Access to energy is critical to achieving sustainable development goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular the MDG target on poverty reduction. Ensuring access to modern energy services for cooking and heating can have multiple benefits including lower indoor air pollution and improved health, better education and income opportunities for women and children, and more efficient use of energy resources."

-Chairman's Summary Part I, 14th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations, 1-12 May 2006, New York City

Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels contribute to climate change and reduced air quality. A key challenge is to find ways to reconcile the world's need for energy with the impact that energy use has on the world environment in order to achieve the goal of sustainable development. The Princeton University Undergraduate Task Force on Energy for Sustainable Development addressed this challenge. The Task Force was directed by Professor Denise Mauzerall and composed of nine undergraduate students of public policy in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Our research focused on four aspects of providing increased access to energy services while reducing the environmental impacts of energy use: energy generation, energy efficiency, energy services for difficult-to-reach areas, and policies to facilitate the implementation of energy services. Each individual report addressed an issue within one of these four areas. Research was informed by current scientific and policy literature, conversations with experts in the field, and task force discussions. China, India, and the United States served as case studies for the task force's recommendations due to their large and increasing energy demands.

On 12 May 2006, the Task Force presented its findings as an official side event at the 14th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations. The slides from our presentation are available below, as well as the individual student reports. In the final slides of the presentation, we offer general recommendations we believe might be useful to policymakers thinking about how to address the need to provide increased energy services without compromising the resources and environment of future generations. Our aim was to present findings grounded in the facts, and while the papers do not represent a comprehensive strategy to resolve the problem of providing energy for sustainable development, we hope that they provide a look at the vast opportunities available to begin to find solutions.


Presentation to the United Nations 14th CSD

Complete Report

Individual Task Force Reports:

Summary (Karis Anne Gong)

Strengthening Health, Security, and Environment: Towards a Sustainable Coal-Based Development Strategy for China
    (William Ulysses Fowler)
Wind Power: A Clean and Renewable Supplement to the World's Supply of Energy (Michael Treadow)

Laying the Foundation for a More Energy Efficient Future: Reducing Climate Change Through Green Building
    (Andrew Turco)
Achieving Vehicle Fuel Efficiency: The CAFE Standards and Beyond (Benjamin Steiner)
Promoting Public Transportation for Sustainable Development (Nikki Laffel)

Energy Services for Difficult-To-Reach Areas:
Clean Distributed Generation for Slum Electrification: The Case of Mumbai (David Schaengold)
Off-grid Energy in Rural India: Policy Recommendations for Effective UN Projects (Antonio Lacayo)

Renewable Portfolio Standards, Feed-In Tariffs, and Tendering: Instituting Effective Mandated Market Policies in China
    (Sabina Sequeira)
Student Thesis: Exporting Sustainability: Reducing the Climate Impact of the Export-Import Bank of the United States
    (Karis Anne Gong)

*The views represented on this website and in the reports are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Princeton University or the Woodrow Wilson School.

(Left to Right: Nikki Laffel, Benjamin Steiner, Andrew Turco, Antonio Lacayo, Sabina Sequeira, David Schaengold,
W. Ulysses Fowler, Michael Treadow, Karis Anne Gong, Professor Denise Mauzerall)