Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Deborah Gordon

Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs
Director, Energy and Climate Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Deborah Gordon is the Director of the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Trained as a chemical engineer and policy analyst, Gordon works on global oil and climate change issues. After beginning her career with Chevron, Gordon managed an energy and environmental consulting practice, taught at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and directed the Energy Policy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Gordon regularly testifies before Congress, advises government agencies, industry, and NGOs, and has served on National Academy of Sciences committees. Gordon’s op eds, articles, and quotes have appeared in The National Interest, The Hill, Pacific Standard, Financial Times, Scientific American, International Economy Magazine, About Oil, Boao Review, Xinghua News, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Time, Washington Post, and New York Times. She has been featured on ABC News, PBS Great Decisions, NPR’s To the Point, E&E TV's On Point.


  • Serving as lead researcher on the development of the Oil-Climate Index (OCI), a first-of-its-kind tool to assess and compare the total climate impacts of global oils through the supply chain from upstream production, midstream refining, and downstream end use

  • Conducting research on the impacts vehicle electrification and automation will have on refining transitions in order to advance a low-carbon economy

  • Applying the OCI to develop a smart carbon tax for the oil sector to equitably reflect producers, refiners and end user’s responsibilities with a mechanism that replaces blunt tax designs, such as gasoline and diesel taxes

  • Analyzed global transport policy opportunities to reduce climate impacts in the course of writing two books on energy, transportation, and the environment

  • Developed the first motor vehicle feebates policy while at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory under a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Books and Edited Volumes

  • Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability (with Daniel Sperling) (Oxford University Press, 2009)

  • Steering a New Course: Transportation, Energy, and the Environment (Island Press, 1991) 

  • “Petroleum Coke Use in India and South Asia: Recent Trends and Emerging Policy Options,” Edited volume (with D. Livingston), Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance, October 2017

  • “The Oil-Climate Index: Assessing GHG Emission Impacts Across the Oil Value Chain,” (with Jeffrey Feldman, Joule Bergerson, Adam Brandt, and Jonathan Koomey), In Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies, Elsevier, Summer 2017

  • “New Realities: Energy Security in the 2010s and Implications for the U.S. Military,” Ed. John Deni, (U.S. Army War College, January 2014)

Reports and Articles

  • "Climate-wise Choices in a World of Oil Abundance," Environmental Research Letters, IOP Science, April 2018, (with Adam Brandt, Mohammed Masnadi, Jacob Englander, and Jonathan Koomey)

  • “Oil Shake Up: Refining Transitions in a Low-Carbon Economy,” (with Madhav Acharya, ARPA-E), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 2018

  • “Understanding Climate Engineering,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 2017

  • “Need to Know: The Case for Oil Transparency in California,” (with Samuel Wojciki), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2017

  • "Getting Smart About Oil in a Warming World," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2016 (with Jonathan Koomey, Adam Brandt, and Joule Bergerson)

  • "Smart Tax: Pricing Oil for a Safe Climate," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 2016 (with Jessica Tuchman Mathews)

  • "Know Your Oil," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2015 (with Adam Brandt, Joule Bergerson, and Jonathan Koomey) 

Talks & Media

News|Recent News

Oil Innovations to Reduce Climate Impacts (co-written by Deborah Gordon)

October 30, 2017 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Senior Fellow Deborah Gordon on reducing climate impacts with oil innovation, "Reducing the climate impacts of the most emissions-intensive oils is possible with technologies that already exist. Even greater reductions are possible with innovations undergoing development." 


Understanding Climate Engineering (written by Deborah Gordon)

August 22, 2017 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Deborah Gordon on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "There is no doubt that a rapid rise in the earth’s temperature will impose high costs on not only our environment and health but also our economic and physical security. In recognition, most nations have committed to significant mitigation efforts. But will these collective efforts be enough?"


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