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12 Student Takeaways from the 2023 Climate Symposium

Clean Energy

The 2023 Climate Symposium took place on November 19, 2023 at Harvard Business School. The event’s theme, “Adopting Climate Solutions at Scale,” explored not only existing climate solutions but the crucial aspects of capital and policy deployment necessary to accelerate implementation of solutions on a global scale.

Considered one of the largest student-run conferences on campus, the Symposium was organized by students from various groups, including HBS Energy & Environment, the Sustainability Club, and the Food & Agriculture Club.

Afomia Hunde, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and member of the Council for Student Sustainability Leaders, shares her insights from attending the 2023 Climate Symposium.

Headshot of Afomia Hunde.

By Afomia Hunde:

As a CSSL member, I had the opportunity to join the Climate Symposium 2023 at the Harvard Business School. The discussions outline the multifaceted challenges of sustainable energy, emphasizing the limitations of relying solely on solar power. It advocates for a holistic approach, considering not only energy transition but also the interconnected roles of agriculture and health. The discourse underscores the transformative power of technology, the need for strategic green energy deployment, and the critical role of a consistent national energy policy for achieving a sustainable and efficient future energy economy.” 

We can change how the policy works. “The government is us” -Eric Toone 

Key points I took from the Symposium:

  1. Diversifying Energy Sources: The need to move beyond traditional energy sources like solar is emphasized. While solar plays a role, it’s recognized that other avenues must be explored to meet our energy demands. 
  2. Beyond Energy Transition: Acknowledging the complexity of the issue, the conversation expands to include considerations beyond energy, such as agriculture and health, recognizing their interconnectedness in the broader climate change narrative. 
  3. Impact of Technology on Politics: The transformative power of technology is highlighted, with a recognition that technological advancements create new political landscapes that must be navigated for effective solutions. 
  4. Green Energy Deployment: Strategic deployment of green and carbon-free energy involves a multifaceted approach. Considerations range from individual consumers to large-scale infrastructure, taking into account factors like cost, resiliency, and savings relative to the grid. 
  5. Evolving Energy Market: The discussion delves into the evolution of the energy market, tracking various means and emphasizing the need for a consistent national energy policy to facilitate long-term decision-making. 
  6. Interconnection Challenges: Addressing the complexities of residential versus utility energy, the conversation covers interconnection, transmission, land availability, and considerations for low-income communities and domestic content. 
  7. Collaboration Among Industries: Recognizing the diverse interests and goals of different stakeholders, the conversation explores ways industries can collaborate for more efficient operations and outcomes. 
  8. Supply Chain Constraints: The challenges within the energy supply chain, particularly the shortage of transformers, are highlighted. The importance of maintaining affordability and meeting customer demand is emphasized. 
  9. Grid Optimization for Sustainability: Grid optimization emerges as a crucial consideration, calling for a consistent and long-term national energy policy, regulated markets, hyperlocal grid planning, and system-wide information sharing. 
  10. Future-oriented Technologies: The discourse touches on critical considerations like long-duration, low-cost energy storage, future modeling, material choices for sustainability, and the potential of green hydrogen. 
  11. Micro scaling and Geological Hydrogen: The importance of understanding scalable projects and addressing challenges in moving hydrogen across the country is discussed. 
  12. Empowering Policy Change: The discourse concludes with a call to action, envisioning a future energy economy shaped by collaborative efforts and policy changes, with the reminder that “the government is us.” 

In navigating the future of energy, these key insights underscore the need for holistic and collaborative approaches, blending technological innovation, strategic policy decisions, and a commitment to sustainability.