Andrew Light

Photo of Andrew Light
Titles and Organizations

University Professor; Director, Institute for Philosophy & Public Policy; University Affiliate (College of Science)

Contact Information
Fairfax Campus, Robinson Hall B, Room 453
Fairfax, Virginia 22030


Andrew Light is University Professor and director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University. He is also a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C.  

From 2013 to 2016, Light served as senior adviser and India counselor to the U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change and as a staff member in Secretary of State John Kerry’s Office of Policy Planning in the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, he was on the senior strategy team for the UN climate negotiations, directed U.S.-India bilateral cooperation on climate change and clean energy, and chaired the U.S. government's interagency working group on climate change for negotiation of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, among other issues. In recognition of this work, Light was awarded the inaugural Alain Locke Award for Public Philosophy from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy in March 2016, and 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.” 

Before serving in the State Department, Light was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. (CAP), where he organized and developed CAP’s work on international climate and energy policy, serving as chief adviser on these issues to CAP’s founder and chairman, John Podesta. In the last 10 years he has authored or co-authored 16 major policy reports, including most recently the Fourth U.S National Climate Assessment, “Climate Change Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” (USGCRP, 2018), and “Ramping Up Governance of the Global Environmental Commons” (World Resources Institute, 2019). He is currently serving on a new National Academies of Sciences Panel which will produce a report on a research agenda and governance approaches to solar radiation management.

In his academic career, Light is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of the scientific and normative dimensions of environmental policy and one of the key architects of the approach to these issues known as “environmental pragmatism.” He is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, and has authored, co-authored, and edited 19 books including, Environmental Values (Routledge, 2008), Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (MIT, 2003), Technology and the Good Life? (University of Chicago, 2000), Environmental Pragmatism (Routledge, 1996), and the forthcoming Ethics and the Anthropocene (MIT). He is currently working on a book on the topic of the evolution and future of the Loss and Damage mechanisms developed in the international climate negotiations. 

Light is cofounder and coeditor of the journal Ethics, Policy, and Environment, now in its 22nd volume. Before coming to Mason, he was director of the graduate program in environmental conservation at New York University and associate professor in the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington, Seattle.

View Andrew Light's CV

Areas of Research

  • International Climate Change Policy
  • Environmental Ethics and Policy
  • Normative Dimensions of Emerging Technologies