Light is new assistant secretary for international affairs of the U.S. Department of Energy

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Andrew Light

George Mason University Professor Andrew Light was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as assistant secretary for international affairs of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Aug. 11.

“I am so grateful to the Senate for confirming Andrew Light to serve as assistant secretary for international affairs at the Department of Energy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in a statement. “Andrew has made enormous contributions to international climate and energy policy, including the landmark Paris Agreement, and he brings a passion and vigor to his work that will help our nation—and our world—seize the opportunity of clean energy while reminding the world that America is back. I am thrilled that he’s willing to serve the American people once again by joining the DOE team.” 

Light, University Professor of Philosophy, Public Policy, and Atmospheric Sciences, and director of Mason’s Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, is currently on a leave of absence from the university to serve in this role. He joined the Biden Administration in January as the principal deputy assistant secretary for international affairs at the DOE. He previously served as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C. In both positions, he worked at the intersection of U.S. and international climate and energy policy.

From 2013 to 2016 he served as senior adviser and India counselor to the U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change and on the staff of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Office of Policy Planning in the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, he was director of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group for Combating Climate Change, chair of the U.S. Interagency Climate Working Group for negotiation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and served on the senior strategy team for the United Nations (UN) climate negotiations, among other duties.

In recognition of this work, Light shared a Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State in July 2016 for “contributions to the U.S. effort that made the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, where the landmark Paris Agreement was concluded, a historic success.” 

Light has authored or co-authored dozens of policy reports on international energy and climate issues, and he has been a long-time champion of work demonstrating the benefits of international climate and energy cooperation on the employment opportunities, security, environmental quality, and health of the American people.

As the grandson of two West Virginia coal miners, his understanding of the vital necessity for a strong U.S. energy economy is rooted in his childhood. He grew up in rural Georgia, where he formed an abiding appreciation of the environment, completing his undergraduate degree at Mercer University, graduate studies at the University of California at Riverside, and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

“We congratulate Andrew on his new position at the Department of Energy,” said College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Ann Ardis. “His expertise, tireless advocacy for clean energy, and prior experience in climate and energy policy work at the international and national levels will no doubt enable his success in this new role.” 

Before joining the Biden Administration, Light sat down with Mason President Gregory Washington on the Access to Excellence podcast to discuss climate change and the need for global action. Listen to that conversation here.