The Coal Transition? with Dr. Mark Thurber

Tuesday September 17, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

This event is led by Liu Scholars at UBC. The Energy Systems in Transition (EST) network at the Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Energy Resources, Development and Environment Lab (ERDEL) in the Faculty of Forestry are delighted to invite you for the book launch of a newly released called “Coal” authored by Dr. Mark Thurber, Associate Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) at Stanford University.

Please RSVP as dinner will be provided for the first 50 participants.

Book Synopsis 

By making available the almost unlimited energy stored in prehistoric plant matter, coal enabled the industrial age – and it still does. Coal today generates more electricity worldwide than any other energy source, helping to drive economic growth in major emerging markets. And yet, continued reliance on this ancient rock carries a high price in smog and greenhouse gases. We use coal because it is cheap: cheap to scrape from the ground, cheap to move, cheap to burn in power plants with inadequate environmental controls. In this book, Mark Thurber explains how coal producers, users, financiers, and technology exporters drive this supply chain, while fragmented environmental movements battle for full incorporation of environmental costs into the global calculus of coal. Delving into the politics of energy versus the environment at local, national, and international levels, Thurber paints a vivid picture of the multi-faceted challenges associated with continued coal production and use in the twenty-first century.

Bio: Dr. Mark Thurber is Associate Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) at Stanford University, where he studies and teaches about energy and environmental markets and policy. Dr. Thurber has written and edited books and articles on topics including oil, natural gas, and coal markets, climate policy, integration of renewable energy into electricity markets, and provision of energy services to low-income populations. Dr. Thurber co-edited and contributed to Oil and Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and The Global Coal Market (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

His new book, Coal (Polity Press, 2019), looks at why coal continues to play such a significant role in the global energy mix despite its serious impacts on climate and local air quality. Dr. Thurber holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and a B.S.E. from Princeton University.

Event Schedule  

5.30 pm Registration & Dinner
6.00 – 6.10 pm Introduction to the event & speakers
6.10 – 6.40 pm Dr. Mark Thurber talks about his new book “Coal”
6.40 – 7.20 pm Panel discussion on coal transition


1. Dr. Mark Thurber, Professor at Stanford University

2. Dr. Kathryn Harrison, Professor of Political Science, UBC

3. Dr. Philippe Le Billon, Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and Department of Geography, UBC

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