iOS app Android app

Steven Cohen
Steven Cohen is the Executive Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is also Director of the Master of Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Director of the Masters of Science in Sustainability Management at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education. From 2002 to 2006, he directed education programs at the Earth Institute. From 1998 to 2001, Cohen was Vice Dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. From 1985 to 1998, he was the Director of Columbia's Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration. From 1987-1998, Cohen was Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum at SIPA.

He is a graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn (1970), Franklin College of Indiana (1974) and the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1979). In 1976-77, Cohen was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Environmental Policy; in 1978-79, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Public and Environmental Policy and Implementation.

Entries by Steven Cohen

The Importance of the U.S.-China Climate Accord

(2) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 8:29 AM

Last week, the United States pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% from 2005 levels before 2025, and China agreed to stop growing its carbon emissions by 2030. Since we do not have a world government and are unlikely to get one anytime soon, we are dependent on...

Read Post

Under the Republican Congress, All Environmental Politics Will Be Local

(1) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 8:43 AM

With the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate in January, Oklahoma's Senator James Inhofe is likely to once again serve as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a position he held from 2003-2008 during George W. Bush's presidency. Senator Inhofe has called climate science a hoax and...

Read Post

A Key Lesson from Superstorm Sandy: We Still Need a Rainy Day Fund

(0) Comments | Posted November 3, 2014 | 8:49 AM

Last week was the second anniversary of "superstorm" Sandy and, for many in the northeast, it is a reminder of the fragility and interdependence of modern life. The New York Times profiled the transformative effect the storm had on some of the families most affected by the storm,...

Read Post

The Symbolic Politics of Climate Diplomacy

(9) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 10:05 AM

Last week, the European Union began the process of setting the agenda for the climate negotiations scheduled for Paris in late 2015. They agreed that by 2030 Europe would cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels. Writing in the New York Times, James Kanter reported that environmental...

Read Post

Why We Are Working With Colleagues in China to Develop Sustainability Metrics

(1) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 9:38 AM

I am in no way an expert on China, but one need not be an expert to understand that China's elite knows they are in the midst of a deep crisis of environmental sustainability. I visited Beijing last week to finalize a partnership between Columbia University's Earth Institute Research Program...

Read Post

Sustainable Consumption and the World of Endless Images, Voices, and Ideas

(1) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 9:23 AM

The world we are creating with global communications and global economic production is fast becoming a true global society. Nevertheless, place -- or home -- continues to have meaning as both communities and nations become even more treasured in a world of mass-produced impressions and fear of homogenization. Today, young...

Read Post

The Transition to Renewable Energy Is Difficult But Feasible

(39) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 12:46 PM

The United States Energy Information Agency estimates that 11 percent of the world's total energy comes from renewable sources, a number they project will grow modestly to 15 percent by 2040. They also estimate that 21 percent of the world's electricity came from renewable energy in 2011, and...

Read Post

It's Time to Abandon the Delusion of a Carbon Tax

(55) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 9:53 AM

At the United Nations last week, President Obama urged the nations of the world to follow our lead and begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The president has moved aggressively to use the powers of the Clean Air Act to begin the decade-long process of regulating greenhouse gases as air...

Read Post

Mayor Bill de Blasio Pivots Toward a Sustainable New York City

(3) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 11:11 AM

Nine months into his mayoralty, with over 300,000 climate marchers having massed in Manhattan, and a U.N. climate meeting set to start, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided the time is right to renew the city's sustainability effort. The mayor and his team have announced the goal...

Read Post

Work and a Sustainable Future

(1) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 10:11 AM

I teach management at Columbia to current and aspiring sustainability professionals, and my colleagues and I work hard to ensure that our curriculum is evolving and keeping pace with a rapidly changing field. We have developed new courses in sustainability metrics, green building, energy analysis, water governance, green accounting, entrepreneurship...

Read Post

Learning from the Era of American Environmental Leadership

(3) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 10:20 AM

This past week, I had the honor of attending a new class at Columbia taught by Tom Jorling and Leon Billings on the origins of American environmental law. Jorling and Billings have accomplished a great deal in their long careers. Billings worked for Senator Ed Muskie and was...

Read Post

Plastic Bags, Nuclear Waste and a Toxic Planet

(2) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 2:25 PM

Last week we saw California move a step closer to banning one-time-use plastic bags and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission legalize above-ground storage of nuclear waste. What's the connection? Every once in a while I think it is useful to turn aside from the deeply rooted, but relatively straightforward problem...

Read Post

Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

(5) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 9:50 AM

It is obvious that the United States federal government is struggling to perform basic governance functions and, as I wrote earlier this summer, it is incapable of leading the transition to a renewable economy. Nevertheless, one of the key elements of that transition, the adoption of solar power,...

Read Post

Work, Youth, Optimism, and the Drive Toward a Safe, Sustainable Planet

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 10:07 AM

As a professor directing several master's programs educating sustainability professionals and as a father of two daughters in their twenties, I think a lot about the job market and the type of employment opportunities available to our young people. I wonder if we can create a high throughput economy that...

Read Post

Will de Blasio and Cuomo Make Sustainability a Higher Priority?

(3) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 10:04 AM

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has allowed the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to lose many of its most talented staff, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is using capital funds meant to finance environmental facilities to help pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge. These...

Read Post

Our Dysfunctional National Government Is Incapable of Building a Sustainable Economy

(6) Comments | Posted August 4, 2014 | 9:52 AM

My Columbia University colleagues Bill Eimicke and Alison Miller recently joined me in authoring a new book entitled Sustainability Policy: Hastening the Transition to A Cleaner Economy. If all goes well, Jossey-Bass publishers will release the book in early 2015. Our work focuses on how American government at...

Read Post

NYC's Bike Sharing: The de Blasio Administration's First Expansion of the City's Sustainability Agenda

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 10:16 AM

Bike sharing in New York City has had a promising yet problematic start, but there is little question that it is a program worth keeping and expanding. It is clear that the de Blasio administration agrees and, in one of their first efforts to expand former mayor Bloomberg's sustainability agenda,...

Read Post

Getting Rid of NYC's Garbage

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 4:14 PM

One indicator of a more crowded planet is the growing cost and complexity of solid waste management. Here in New York City, we used to dump our garbage into holes in the ground called landfills. In Brooklyn and Staten Island, these dumps grew so high that we had to close...

Read Post

LeBron James, Place and the Search for Sustainable Communities

(7) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 10:30 AM

My Columbia colleague, Professor Mark Taylor, recently published a wonderful book about his home in western Massachusetts entitled, Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill. It is a distinctive and remarkable volume on the importance of place, design, and meaning. The book is beautifully produced and includes many superb photographs of...

Read Post

Sustainability Science Requires the Freedom to Observe and Understand the Planet

(2) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 3:34 PM

Co-authored by Arthur Lerner-Lam, Alison Miller and Sean Solomon

The scientific heart of Columbia University's Earth Institute is the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which has been engaged in observing and analyzing earth systems for over 65 years. If we are to develop a sustainable and renewable economy, it is essential that...

Read Post