Home Morningside Events - Morningside Area Alliance Talks Air Pollution Disparities and Equality Assessments of US National Decarbonization Strategies

Air Pollution Disparities and Equality Assessments of US National Decarbonization Strategies

Energy transitions and decarbonization require rapid changes to a nation’s electricity generation mix. There are many feasible decarbonization pathways for the electricity sector, yet there is vast uncertainty about how these pathways will advance or derail the nation’s energy equality goals. We present a framework for investigating how decarbonization pathways, driven by a least-cost paradigm, will impact air pollution inequality across vulnerable groups (e.g., low-income, minorities) in the United States. We find that if no decarbonization policies are implemented, Black and high-poverty communities may be burdened with 0.19–0.22 μg/m3 higher PM2.5 concentrations than the national average during the energy transition. National mandates requiring more than 80% deployment of renewable or low-carbon technologies achieve equality of air pollution concentrations across all demographic groups. Thus, if least-cost optimization capacity expansion models remain the dominant decision-making paradigm, strict low-carbon or renewable energy technology mandates will have the greatest likelihood of achieving national distributional energy equality. Decarbonization is essential to achieving climate goals, but myopic decarbonization policies that ignore co-pollutants may leave Black and high-poverty communities up to 26–34% higher PM2.5 exposure than national averages over the energy transition.

The Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs will host Dr. Destenie Nock, visiting faculty member at CGEP and an assistant professor of engineering and public policy and civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University for a fireside chat to explore these issues. Dr. Geoffrey Heal, Donald C. Waite III professor of social enterprise, and Paul Garrett professor of public policy and corporate responsibility, Columbia Business School, will moderate.

Doors will open at 5:45 p.m. and the conversation will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. A cocktail reception will follow the conversation.


This event will be hosted in person in New York City.

Advance registration is required. This event will be hosted in person and capacity is limited. We ask that you register only if you can attend this event in its entirety. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email. The event will be recorded and the video recording will be added to our website following the event.

This event is open to press, and registration is required to attend. For media inquiries or requests for interviews, please contact Natalie Volk (nv2388@columbia.edu).

For more information about the event, please contact energypolicyevents@columbia.edu.

Event Contact Information:
Center on Global Energy Policy


Nov 15 2023


6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


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Formats (virtual, in person, hybrid)



Faculty House (Columbia University)
64 Morningside Drive (enter on 116th Street)


Center on Global Energy Policy - Columbia University
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