Tackling International Environmental and Energy Policy Challenges Outside the Classroom

Yi Xu
MA, ’17
Energy, Resources and Environment

Yi has always wanted to focus her career on the intersection of international development and sustainable energy. Prior to attending Johns Hopkins SAIS, Yi worked at energy and climate focused NGOs, writing policy memos and building greenhouse gas projection models. During her work there, she realized that sustainable development cannot be achieved without addressing climate change and other environmental challenges, and she found that the school provided a unique program that links these three topics. Her studies enabled her to work at the World Bank on sustainable energy development projects, gaining Yi professional experience even before graduation.

While at Johns Hopkins SAIS, Yi has been part of a practicum team in partnership with global reinsurer Swiss Re. After one year of dedicated work, their report “Lights out: The risks of climate and natural disaster related disruption to the electric grid” has been published by Swiss Re. The report analyzes the financial risks posed by natural-disaster related electric grid disruption in British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington State. The report also illustrates that the Pacific Northwest is faced with an evolving risk landscape, in which climate change, insufficiently diversified energy sources, and population growth are putting increasing strain on an aging electrical grid. Along with the predicted Cascadian Subduction Zone event, the region faces even larger financial and physical risks to its electric infrastructure. The executive summary of the report can be found here.

As one of the final projects during Yi’s graduate school journey, the practicum was enjoyable because it provided her the unique opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills learned during two years of study to a topic about which she is truly passionate. Ultimately, the practicum has offered Yi and her teammates the opportunity to gain valuable experience in project management, consulting, and teamwork. More importantly, as a consultant at the World Bank, Yi finds the skills learned from the practicum have served as a foundation for her professional development.

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