Archive for July, 2013


Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

I was in Paris again in late June/early July at IFPEN, lecturing in both the Petroleum Economics & Management Program, and in IFP Training’s Executive Program. I began my lectures by quoting Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” The good news is a recent World Bank report noting 40 national and 20 sub-national programs around the world addressing carbon pricing, with most of those being market-oriented emissions trading programs. Domestic (compliance) trading has now started in China, and the country has seven pilot programs under development, with a national program soon to follow. On the other hand, carbon market prices have completely collapsed in both the EU and Kyoto Protocol programs, and the path forward doesn’t look bright in either case.

Viaduc des Arts

But it was certainly nice to be back in this beautiful city once again. Last year on a visit to New York I walked the length of the High Line, the new elevated greenway park built on the former railway line on the west side of Manhattan. On this Paris visit, I took some time to see the original inspiration for that – the Promenade Plantée, a 4.5 kilometer elevated park in the 12th arrondissement which begins just above the shops & galleries at the Viaduc des Arts near the Bastille, and ends at the Bois de Vincennes….. & I similarly walked the length of this former railway path on a sunny but cool Parisian afternoon.

Michelangelo ‘Dying Slave’ tribute

Following the Michelangelo theme in recent postings, an especially interesting site along the way was the view of the police station which has a tribute to Michelangelo’s ‘Dying Slave’ — certainly a rather unique architectural statement for a law enforcement agency. You might also remember the Promenade Plantée from the Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy movie Before Sunset. Their first romantic drama, Before Sunrise, came out in 1995 and took place in Vienna, but the second — filmed nine years later in Paris — included scenes from the green walkway. [Their newest film, Before Midnight, takes place eighteen years after the original one – and it’s been getting rave reviews….. so I guess I’m just going to have to find an excuse to visit the Greek isles, where that one was filmed!]

Implosions of America

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Many years ago I was standing in the bookstore at Beijing Airport, thumbing through a paperback that offered a collection of Harvard Business Review articles…. and came across one written by one of my former students. It was entitled “Recycling for Profit: The New Green Business Frontier” (HBR, Nov. 1993), by David Biddle – a former student who’s evolved into a friend & colleague I’ve now known for close to thirty years. David spent many years wearing a number of different private-sector and NGO hats in the energy/environment arena, and eventually ended up running the City of Philadelphia’s municipal recycling program. (One of my fondest memories as a UN speaker was sharing the stage with singing bottles & cans…. courtesy of one of his team’s recycling productions.)

I always knew about his technical and managerial skills, but about ten years ago he completely surprised me by handing over the first draft of a novel he had written — a psychedelic, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll thriller. I read the draft on a trip to Guiyang, China – and sent him a note from there with some comments about the plot, characters, etc., with the conclusion: “I’m rather in awe about [what you’ve done]…. I really did enjoy your book.”

In late 2011, Dave surprised me once again….. this time by quitting his municipal government job to become a full-time author. He published the psychedelic novel (Beyond the Will of God) and a book of short stories (Trying to Care), and on this trip I was reading his second book of short stories, Implosions of America. Dave himself described the stories pretty aptly: “Some are meditations and ruminations, some are allegories, and some are opportunities for the reader to look inside the mind of men who have imploded emotionally and are trying to find their way out of the rubble.” Like his two previous works, I enjoyed this one very much. His short stories can be stark and spare, & very real-to-life….. and I’m looking forward to his next book, coming out soon.

You can follow Dave on his blog(s)…. and you might also be interested to know that his son Jesse was a first round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, and is now climbing his way through the team’s minor league farm system. He’s a talented pitcher getting great reviews, and we look forward to seeing him – hopefully sometime very soon! – in Citizens Bank Park.