Alexander Park ’23

Ecologic Institute, Germany

This summer, I had the opportunity to work as a research intern for the Ecologic Institute, performing policy review and analysis while living in Berlin. The Ecologic Institute is a politically independent think tank that performs research in environmental policy, sustainable development and socioecological models. Their research is funded by various organizations, predominantly the European Commission, both the European and German Parliaments, German ministries and agencies, and various foundations.

Alexander Park at a conference.I was assigned to the 4i-TRACTION project, a European Commission-funded advisory report that looks to create a transformative climate governance plan for the EU. The project aims to analyze how the financial and political resources of the European Union can be mobilized to achieve climate neutrality within the EU by 2050. The project is a collaborative effort, spread among nine organizations in seven EU countries. I focused on the work package analyzing international, best-practice examples of transformative climate policy and their potential application to the EU.

I researched fossil fuel transitions, specifically policies that encouraged the active phaseout of fossil fuels in countries and cities outside the EU. I primarily addressed two topics: the phaseout of natural gas use in building heating in Vancouver; and the transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles in Norway. I performed extensive legislative and economic research on these policies, analyzing the history of policy development in both Vancouver and Norway. In addition to a review of legislative documents and government regulations, I also conducted several interviews with experts in the fields of energy transition.

My research culminated in a presentation to senior members of the project team, and in co-authoring a 35-page report that was reviewed at the end of August with plans to subsequently be published as a part of the policy advisory package. Although the case study research centering on Norway and Vancouver was not the only project I worked on while at Ecologic, the fact that I was able to focus most of my time on that one task afforded me an incredible opportunity to immerse myself in a profoundly interesting topic and to develop my skills in policy research, communication and integrative analysis. I am most fortunate for the connections I was able to make between the research I was conducting and my academic interests. The work that I did this summer has driven me to shift my focus of both my future studies and career toward a more energy-centric understanding of environmental sustainability policy.

I would like to thank Benjamin Görlach of the Ecologic Institute for his mentorship and advice. I would also like to thank Tanja Srebotnjak of the Zilkha Center for creating the connection between Williams and the Ecologic Institute, as well as the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for their support. Finally, I would like to thank Jim Marver ’72 for this experience. I am incredibly thankful to the Williams community for making this opportunity possible, as this summer excited and inspired me for the future!