College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Andrew Light

Andrew Light

Andrew Light

University Professor, Director of Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy

International climate policy and governance, environmental policy and ethics, risk analysis, and ethics and emerging technologies

Andrew Light has two interrelated careers. One is as an academic where he has worked for almost twenty years on the normative implications of environmental policy. The other is as a policy expert and advocate where he works on the front lines of international climate and science policy. From 2013-2016 he served as Senior Adviser and India Counselor to the U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change, and as a Staff Climate Adviser in the Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning in the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity he was Co-Chair of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Combating Climate Change, Chair of the Interagency Climate Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals, and served on the senior strategy team for the UN climate negotiations. Before joining the U.S. government he was also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he was chief adviser on international climate policy to the center's founder and chairman, John Podesta. At this time he authored or co-authored eleven major reports on climate change and renewable energy, and over a hundred columns and editorials.  He will continue much of this work in his new role as Distinguished Senior Fellow in the climate program at the World Resources Institute.

In his academic work Light is the author of over 100 articles and book chapters on climate change, restoration ecology, and urban sustainability, and has authored, co-authored, and edited 19 books, including Environmental Values (Routledge, 2008), Controlling Technology (Prometheus, 2005), Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (MIT, 2003), Technology and the Good Life? (Chicago, 2000), Environmental Pragmatism (Routledge, 1996), and the forthcoming Ethics in the Anthropocene (MIT). He has previously taught at a variety of institutions, including the Environmental Conservation Program at NYU and the School of Public Affairs and Department of Philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle. More detail about his work can be found at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy website.

Selected Publications


Environmental Values, with John O’Neill and Alan Holland. (London: Routledge Press, 2008).


Carbon Market Crossroads: New Ideas for Harnessing Global Markets to Confront Climate Change. Co-authored report. (Washington, D.C.: Climate Advisers and Center for American Progress, April 2013).

40 x 35: A Zero Carbon Energy Target for the World’s Largest Economies. Co-authored report. (Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress, March 2013).

The U.S. Role in International Climate Finance: A Blueprint for Near Term Leadership. Co-authored report. (Washington, D.C.: Alliance for Climate Protection and Center for American Progress, December 2010).

Articles and Book Chapters

"Climate Diplomacy," in The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics, eds. S. Gardiner and A. Thompson (Oxford: Oxford University Pres, 2016), forthcoming.

"A Responsible Path: Enhancing Action on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants ,” with Gwynne Taraska, in Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World, eds. C. Heyward, and D. Roser (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), forthcoming.

“Climate Change, Adaptation, and Climate-Ready Development Assistance,” with Gwynne Taraska, Environmental Values, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2014, pp. 129-147.

“An Equity Hurdle in International Climate Negotiations,” Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2013, pp. 27-34.

“Valuing Novel Ecosystems,” with Allen Thompson and Eric Higgs, in Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, eds. R. Hobbs, E. Higgs, and C. Hall (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2013), pp. 257-268.

“Finding a Future for Environmental Ethics,” The Ethics Forum / Les Ateliers de l’éthique, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2012, pp. 71-80.

“On the Need for Front Line Climate Ethics,” in The Environment: Philosophy, Science, and Ethics (Topics in Contemporary Philosophy), eds. B. Kabesenche, M. O’Rourke and M. Slater (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012), pp. 277-292.

“The Death of Restoration?” in Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future, eds. A. Thompson and J. Bendik-Keymer (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012), pp. 105-122.

The Moral Journey of Environmentalism: From Wilderness to Place,” in Pragmatic Sustainability: Theoretical and Practical Tools, ed. S. Moore (London: Routledge Press, 2010), pp. 136-148.