In a series of largely unnoticed but extremely consequential moves, two regional electricity market operators are pursuing reforms to make it more difficult for states to achieve their clean energy goals. We analyze the ways in which the intricate, technical reforms underway in regional electricity markets threaten state climate change objectives and the durability of FERC’s regional market constructs.
Drawing on California’s rich history of environmental policy, this article evaluates past and current efforts to build multilateral climate policy cooperation at the state level. California is at once a proactive outlier—a subnational government with the political will and regulatory capacity to rival even the European Union’s policy regime—as well as a microcosm of the broader climate mitigation puzzle, where the problem of implementing aggressive targets looms large.
Nature 548: 25–27 (2017) (with David G. Victor, Keigo Akimoto, Yoichi Kaya, Mitsutsune Yamaguchi, and Cameron Hepburn)
The Paris agreement offered, in theory, to reboot climate diplomacy by giving countries the flexibility to set their own commitments. The idea is that as each country implements its own pledge, others can learn what is feasible, and that collaborative global climate protection will emerge. That logic, however, threatens to unravel because national governments are making promises that they are unable to honor.
Energy Law Journal 37(2): 219–63 (2016) (with Andy Coghlan)
California's original climate law, AB 32, authorized the state's carbon market through the end of 2020. As state policymakers look to implement California's ambitious new 2030 climate target, they must confront the requirements of a 2010 ballot initiative (Proposition 26) that requires a 2/3 legislative supermajority to raise taxes on any citizen. We analyze the implications of Proposition 26 on the future of state climate policy and the role of carbon pricing in western electricity markets.
The Electricity Journal 29(5): 7–14 (2016) (with Andy Coghlan)
For several years, California’s carbon market has cleared just above a quarterly auction price floor. Following an anemic February 2016 auction, however, secondary market prices fell below the price floor. At the May auction, 90% of available allowances went unsold—$880 million worth, if valued at the price floor. These developments suggest that a combination of allowance oversupply and uncertainty over post-2020 climate policy has destabilized the market.
Energy Economics 55: 303–318 (2016) (with Jordan T. Wilkerson, Michael Wara, and John P. Weyant)
We present a new method that enables users of the federal government's flagship energy policy model (NEMS) to dynamically estimate the direct energy expenditure impacts of climate policy across U.S. household incomes and census regions. To illustrate our method, we evaluate a recent carbon fee-and-dividend proposal introduced in the U.S. Senate, the Climate Protection Act of 2013 (S. 332, sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders).
Technological Forecasting & Social Change 103: 203–213 (2016) (with Jonathan G. Koomey)
A 2011 report from the Breakthrough Institute criticized energy efficiency as an ineffective climate mitigation strategy because of the rebound effect. Here, we show that the main evidence behind this finding was the product of a significant analytical error.
Communicating Climate Change and Natural Hazard Risk and Cultivating Resilience (Jeanette L. Drake et al., eds., 2016) (with Barbara Haya, Aaron Strong, and Emily Grubert).
Natural and social scientists are increasingly stepping out of purely academic roles to actively inform science-based climate change policies. We describe our participation in the public process surrounding the development of two new carbon offset protocols.
The Electricity Journal 28(4): 18–27 (2015) (with Michael Wara and Rachel Teitelbaum)
Key elements of EPA's Clean Power Plan rely on forecasted electricity sales from the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), but NEMS has consistently over-projected electricity sales. An analysis of the model's bias as applied by EPA raises concerns about the stringency of the proposed emissions targets.
UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy 33(1): 1–41 (2015)
Many celebrate the link between carbon markets in California and Québec as a leading example of climate policy coordination. But California recently diluted its market regulations, raising questions as to whether California regulators alerted their Canadian counterparts and, if so, why the state's administrative record contains no such acknowledgment.
Although California's carbon market is generally seen as a model climate policy, recent reforms now credit utilities for shifting legacy coal contracts to their unregulated neighbors, a practice that causes leakage.
New Trends in Earth-Science Outreach and Engagement (Jeanette L. Drake et al., eds., 2014) (with David Weiskopf)
We describe the scientific issues at the heart of a critical case in climate law, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey, 730 F.3d 1070 (9th Cir. 2013), cert. denied, as well as our role representing scientists in the Ninth Circuit appeal.
Boston Review 32: 15–16 (2007) (with David G. Victor)
Assuring ample energy services for a growing world economy while protecting the climate will not be simple. The most critical task will be curtailing emissions from coal; it is the most abundant fossil fuel and stands above the others in its carbon effluent.
Scientific American 297: 70–77 (2007) (with David G. Victor)
Limiting climate change without damaging the world economy depends on stronger and smarter market signals to regulate carbon dioxide. As Congress debates how to cut climate-warming emissions, insights drawn from the European carbon market can help.
Climatic Change 75(1-2): 81–86 (2006) (with David G. Victor)
Most greenhouse gas inventories and policy strategies assume that hydro dams are essentially benign with respect to climate change, but a growing body of research suggests that the greenhouse gas impacts of reservoirs can be significant.