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How Green Is the Digital Economy? Sloan Foundation Funds New Research Project on the Energy and Environmental Implications of the Digital Economy

April 2018

(Washington, D.C.)—The Environmental Law Institute, in partnership with the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, has received a $550,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support a two-year project focused on the implications of the digital economy for energy and the environment.  The project is designed to create a multidisciplinary body of research on the energy and environmental impacts of sharing platforms, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technologies.

David Rejeski, who directs ELI’s initiative on Technology, Innovation, and the Environment, noted that “the project will support a network of researchers from various disciplines and organizations focused on studying the energy and environmental implications of the digital economy and create a body of knowledge to help inform public policies and decisions.” It will bring together researchers from multiple fields, including economics, public policy, engineering, environmental science, data science, and legal and regulatory analysis.

Rejeski explained that the project team is “especially interested in cultivating a new generation of young researchers who can move our understanding forward as they grow professionally.” The focus on supporting burgeoning practitioners is part of the impetus behind partnering with experts at leading academic institutions. Those teams are led by Jordan Diamond and Daniel Farber from the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley, and Reid Lifset from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

“New digital technologies are reshaping how the energy system operates,” said Evan S. Michelson, Director of Sloan’s Energy and Environment program. “This project will help answer pressing questions about the potentially far-reaching energy and environmental consequences of these rapidly emerging technologies. David Rejeski and his colleagues from across the natural and social sciences are ideally positioned to organize this multidisciplinary research network.”

The project will select 8-10 researchers for grants of up to $35,000.  Those interested in applying for a grant can download the proposal guidelines  HERE.  Any questions should be directed to: Dave Rejeski (rejeski@eli.org).