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Joanna I. Lewis



    September 6, 2011 — May 25, 2012

    Professional affiliation

    Assistant Professor, Science, Technology and International Affairs Program, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

    Wilson Center Projects

    “Towards a Model for Transnational Eco-Innovation: Assessing Cross-Border Clean Energy Initiatives with China”

    Full Biography

    Throughout my academic and professional career, I have been motivated by what I believe to be the quintessential environmental challenge of our time, global climate change, and the need to transition to a low carbon economy. Since the majority of future fossil energy consumption and consequently carbon dioxide emissions will stem from the developing world, and foremost from China’s rapid industrialization, I have chosen to focus the majority of my research there. My focus on China stems not just from its role as the largest energy consumer and greenhouse gas emitter in the world, but from its importance in shaping future technology and policy decisions in the United States and globally. My research examines domestic and international factors that shape energy and climate policy in China, as well as China’s ability to leapfrog to more advanced energy technologies. Understanding how China can and will respond to these issues advances our understanding of the global energy system and how it will evolve under environmental constraints.

    My central research approach is to view China not just as the source of energy demand or environmental problems, as it is so commonly portrayed, but rather as a source of change. I seek to understand how China’s rise is influencing its ability not only to respond to its environmental challenges, but its ability for technological innovation. My core research has examined the evolution of several specific clean energy technologies, tracing the models of international technology transfer through which they were acquired, and the domestic policy frameworks that facilitated their development. My next major research project will examine the conditions under which joint, cross-national research collaboration can succeed, drawing from a broad range of cases of Sino-U.S. collaboration in technology research and development (R&D) in the energy sector. I have also pursued research on the broader political and technical constraints on China’s energy sector, and how these factors influence domestic policy decisions in Beijing. Other research examines the climate-related impacts facing China, as well as the international positions China takes in the UN climate negotiations. My work has examined many of the above issues in the context of U.S.-China relations, with my research both informing and being informed by current policy discussions.

    I have served as an international advisor to the Energy Foundation China Sustainable Energy Program in Beijing for over 10 years, working on renewable energy policy design and assessment in China. I am a Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, and am a National Committee on United States-China Relations Public Intellectuals Program Fellow. I was a member of the National Academies Committee on U.S.-China Cooperation on Electricity from Renewables and have consulted for many domestic and international organizations including UNIDO and USAID. I also serve on the Advisory Boards of the Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)’s U.S.-China Program.


    B.A. Environmental Science and Policy, Duke University; M.A., Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D., Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley 

    Major Publications

    • Joanna I. Lewis, “Building a National Wind Turbine Industry: Experiences from China, India and South Korea,” International Journal of Technology and Globalisation 5, no. 3/4 (2011): 281-305.
    • Joanna I. Lewis, “The State of U.S.-China Relations on Climate Change: Examining the Bilateral and Multilateral Relationship,” China Environment Series, no. 11 (December 2010): 7-39.
    • Joanna I. Lewis, “Climate Change and Security: Examining China’s Challenges in a Warming World,” International Affairs 85, no. 6 (2009): 1195-1213.
    • Joanna I. Lewis, “The Evolving Role of Carbon Finance in Promoting Renewable Energy Development in China,” Energy Policy 38, no. 6 (June 2010): 2875-2886.