Cutting global methane emissions: Perspectives from a Chilean scientist turned policymaker

In this episode, we discuss air pollution and climate resilience in Chile, science-based policy making, and global methane management as an effective climate mitigation policy:

  • Air pollution in different regions of Chile and potential control strategies
  • Science-based approach to environmental policy making
  • The importance of methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas, to climate change
  • The work of the Global Methane Hub on tracking methane emissions as well as investing in emission reductions in key sectors

Our guest Dr Marcelo Mena is a Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and the former Environment Minister for Chile (2014 to 2018). As minister, he spearheaded multiple international environmental initiatives including helping craft a landmark agreement to phase out coal power generation, South America’s first carbon taxes for power generation and new car sales, creating 45,000 square kilometers of national parks, and protecting 1.3 million square kilometers of ocean. Previously he was Practice Manager at the World Bank, where he led the team that created the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action. He is a biochemical engineer and holds MS and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa, focusing his research on estimating the externalities of biofuels, power generation, transportation, and residential heating. He has used his research to advocate for renewable energy and push for more stringent regulations to stop dirty coal power generation in Chile. He has received awards from UNEP, National Geographic, Oceans Unite, NASA and the USEPA, as well as fellowships from MIT and the Fulbright Commission. He is currently the CEO of the newly found Global Methane Hub, a global alliance of more than 20 leading philanthropies and organizations committed to reducing global methane emissions by more than 30% by the year 2030. Find him on Twitter.

Our interviewer Andrea Schneibel is a science writer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in the US. She reports on the directorate’s work to make fusion energy a viable power source. She’s also worked for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, where she wrote about scientific research made possible through high-performance computing.  Before coming to ORNL, she worked as a science journalist and communications consultant for both the private sector and non-profit organizations in Latin America, Europe, and the United States.  Some of the working experiences that have shaped her career include Scientific American, the National Audubon Society, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Episode notes and references:

Music by: Ritesh Prasanna

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