Learn More About Angel Hsu
Organizations focused on achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will not succeed unless they are supplied with the critical data needed to measure and monitor progress. Fortunately, pioneering climate and data scientist Angel Hsu (shoo) is leading a global effort to collect such data.
Assistant Professor of Public Policy and the Environment, Ecology and Energy Program (E3P) at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and founding director of the Data-Driven EnviroLab, Hsu is developing urgently-needed metrics for increasing transparency and transforming environmental decision making and policy using “third wave data.”
“Third wave data leverages innovative new techniques that allow us to aggregate massive amounts of information from various sources including satellites, consumer data, social media, even crowdsourced and citizen-science,” explains Hsu. “My research shows that many governments don’t regularly collect, monitor or report critical environmental information, from air pollution, fresh water and soil quality to climate change and energy information. We have to make sure we’re on track to fill in those gaps. Third wave data is helping us do that.”
Hsu has spent more than a decade working on ways to address problems related to climate change, particularly in such areas as energy, urbanization, indoor and outdoor air quality, and natural and man-made disasters. Her 2020 TED Talk cemented her position as a leading authority whose practical approaches are helping organizations, governments and citizens forge a path toward a more sustainable future. As the energy sector continues to experience major shocks, and boards and investors work on meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements, her work could not be more important.
An in-depth study conducted by Hsu and the New Climate Institute in 2020 examined net-zero pledges in detail. Noting that net zero momentum is accelerating, they published a report outlining subnational and corporate net-zero targets and a variety of methods for implementation.
“I think what we would like to see from the scientific perspective is that companies be realistic about what they can actually do, and be really transparent,” Hsu explained to Fast Company in February 2021. “So, they can really only reduce their emissions by 50% by 2025, or 2030, to me, that’s a much more credible target than if a company says we’re going to go net zero by 2050, and they have no way of actually achieving that goal.”
Fluent in Mandarin, Hsu is particularly focused on China and the Global South and how overseas infrastructure investments from China affect land use in Southeast Asia. An expert on Chinese climate policy and geopolitics and climate change, her goal is to demystify China’s climate policy and to promote cooperation and competition with the U.S. She has provided expert testimony to the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission and is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. In a related November 2021 New York Times op-ed she even commended China’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
A sought-after advisor, speaker and educator, Hsu also focuses on cities where communities, especially low-income urban communities, are suffering the worst effects of climate change. After realizing data that tracks progress in cities was scarce, Hsu and her team introduced a first-of-its-kind research tool, the Urban Environment and Social Inclusion Index (UESI), in 2018. By leveraging high-resolution, large-scale and census data on a neighborhood scale to reveal how more than 160 cities perform at the intersection of environmental and social equity, Hsu has been using the tool to fill in those earlier gaps in data.
“Through a new level of transparency and detail, the UESI provides a measurable baseline for cities to understand how they are meeting – and not meeting – goals for sustainable and inclusive growth,” wrote Hsu and her co-authors in 2018. “This tool also empowers urban residents to understand the impact of environmental burdens on their neighborhoods and defend their rights regarding sustainable well-being. While there are certainly gaps that remain, including the lack of waste management and recycling data, we hope this tool will expand to include more cities and data, taking advantage of advances in information and technology innovation that make it possible to shed new light on persistent problems.”
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Angel Hsu previously held a joint appointment as assistant professor of environmental studies at Yale-NUS College in Singapore and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as an adjunct. In addition to publishing in academic journals, she regularly participates in conferences and summits focused on reducing the effects of climate change. A Public Intellectual Program Fellow, Hsu was recognized as an inaugural Grist 50 leader and, in 2018, she was a TED Age of Amazement Speaker.
She holds a PhD in environmental policy from Yale University, an MPhil in environmental policy from the University of Cambridge, and a BS in biology and BA in political science from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
Angel Hsu is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.