Electricity and water systems are inextricably linked through water demands for energy generation, and through energy demands for using, moving, and treating water and wastewater. Climate change may stress these interdependencies, together referred to as the energy-water nexus, by reducing water availability for hydropower generation and by increasing irrigation and electricity demand for groundwater pumping, among other feedbacks. Further, many climate adaptation measures to augment water supplies—such as water recycling and desalination—are energy-intensive. However, water and electricity system climate vulnerabilities and adaptations are often studied in isolation, without considering how multiple interactive risks may compound. This paper reviews the fragmented literature and develops a generalized framework for understanding these implications of climate change on the energy-water nexus. We apply this framework in a case study to quantify end-century direct climate impacts on California’s water and electricity resources and estimate the magnitude of the indirect cross-sectoral feedback of electricity demand from various water adaptation strategies. Our results show that increased space cooling demand and decreased hydropower generation are the most significant direct climate change impacts on California’s electricity sector by end-century. In California’s water sector, climate change impacts directly on surface water availability exceed demand changes, but have considerable uncertainty, both in direction and magnitude. Additionally, we find that the energy demands of water sector climate adaptations could significantly affect California’s future electricity system needs. If the worst-case water shortage occurs under climate change, water-conserving adaptation measures can provide large energy savings co-benefits, but other energy-intensive water adaptations may double the direct impacts of climate change on the state’s electricity resource requirement. These results highlight the value of coordinated adaptation planning between the energy and water sectors to achieve mutually beneficial solutions for climate resilience.
Los Angeles Times
by Sammy Roth
For the original, click here.
If there’s one thing to understand this Earth Day about California’s role in confronting the climate crisis, it’s this: Just because the state considers itself a global leader doesn’t mean it’s doing nearly enough.
Gov. Gavin Newsom admitted as much last year. As monstrous wildfires carved a path of destruction from the giant sequoias of the Sierra Nevada to the mountains around Los Angeles — bringing smoke-choked orange skies to the Bay Area and raining ash to Southern California — Newsom said, “Across the entire spectrum, our goals are inadequate to the reality we’re experiencing.”
“We’re going to have to do more, and we’re going to have to fast-track our efforts,” Newsom told reporters as he stood among freshly charred trees in Oroville. “While it’s nice to have goals to get to 100% clean energy by 2045, that’s inadequate.”
Now leading scientists are offering the governor a far more aggressive path forward.
That path is laid out in a not-yet-published paper (available on arXiv) from a team of researchers led by UC Berkeley’s Daniel Kammen, whose work for an international climate science panel helped earn a Nobel Peace Prize. The researchers make the case that California must ratchet up its ambitions dramatically, and immediately.
The scientists call for the state to reduce its planet-warming pollution nearly 80% by 2030, rather than the currently mandated 40%, through what they describe as a “a wartime-like mobilization of resources.”
Why should the Golden State double its efforts?
The paper rattles off a dizzying series of facts about the climate consequences already confronting Californians: 4.3 million acres burned in 2020, about 4% of the state; nearly $150 billion in health and economic damages from smaller firestorms two years earlier; and conflagrations so bad experts didn’t expect to see them for another 30 years. Not to mention worsening droughts, rising seas and hotter heat storms that are far deadlier than many people realize.
And despite the state’s long track record of leadership in phasing out fossil fuels, it’s now falling behind, the researchers say.
There’s no better sign of that than President Biden — once viewed with extreme skepticism by climate activists — trying to pass an infrastructure bill that sets a national goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, a full decade ahead of California’s target.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed the same 2035 goal in his State of the City address on Monday. That followed the release of a first-of-its-kind study by the federally funded National Renewable Energy Laboratory finding L.A. can achieve 98% clean energy as early as 2030, and 100% by 2035, without increasing the risk of blackouts or disrupting the local economy.
Garcetti said in an interview that Newsom and the state Legislature should “absolutely” follow L.A.'s lead.
“This should encourage California to see that it’s achievable everywhere. If the biggest city in the state with the largest municipal utility in the country can do this, you can do it too,” Garcetti said.
“The reason why is obvious. This whole world, governments are missing their goals. Weather events are becoming more extreme, and the threat is greater today than it was yesterday,” he said.
There are other examples overseas of governments picking up the pace.
The United Kingdom plans to ban the sale of gas cars by 2030, half a decade ahead of Newsom’s deadline for California. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently set a target of slashing carbon emissions 68% by 2030, far more aggressive than California’s aim. Volvo says it will produce only electric vehicles by 2030. Finland is aiming for a carbon-neutral economy by 2035, 10 years ahead of California.
Lawmakers in Washington state also vaulted ahead of California last week, setting a goal to end the sale of gas cars by 2030.
“There’s a lot going on that we’re not taking advantage of,” Kammen said in an interview.
Kammen has previously served as a Coordinating Lead Author for the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. His coauthors on the new paper include UC Merced cognitive scientist Teenie Matlock; USC sociologist Manuel Pastor; UC Santa Barbara sociologist David Pellow, UC San Diego climate scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan; UC Santa Barbara political scientist Leah Stokes; and Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year.
The group used a modeling tool developed by the Climate Center, a Santa Rosa-based nonprofit, to analyze how much the Golden State could cut emissions over the next nine years without causing energy costs to rise significantly. They determined a reduction of 77% below 1990 levels was feasible, largely because solar panels, wind turbines and batteries are getting so cheap.
“We didn’t work back from a target. We worked forward from what are the current price declines we’re seeing on the renewable and storage side,” Kammen said in an interview. “The 80% comes in at a sweet spot, where the prices don’t rise that much.”
What would those changes look like in practice?
Under one pathway laid out in the paper, which is being reviewed by the journal Environmental Research Letters, California would need to reach 100% clean electricity by 2030. That would require building new infrastructure — including lots of offshore wind turbines — at a pace Kammen described as “a bit scary.” Emissions from transportation, the largest source of climate pollution, would need to fall by 70% in nine years, almost certainly necessitating an end to the sale of gas cars sometime this decade.
“It’s really designed to be a wake-up call,” Kammen said.
There’s little question a wake-up call is needed.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this month that concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane, the two most important greenhouse gases, reached record levels in 2020, rising rapidly despite a pandemic that slowed the global economy. The planet is already 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than it was before the Industrial Revolution, nearing the 1.5 degrees that scientists have set as a target for staving off dangerous tipping points.
To watch the interview and discussion video, click hereon the KQED website.
Fighting Climate Change Amid Wildfires, Extreme Weather and Presidential DenialOn Monday, during a trip to California, President Trump refused to acknowledge the role climate change has played in generating wildfires that have burned more than 3 million acres and killed at least 26 people, including one firefighter battling the El Dorado Fire east of Los Angeles. Trump asserted that poor forest management was to blame and that the weather would get cooler. But Trump’s denial of climate change is at odds with public opinion. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, more than 70% of Americans believe that climate change is happening, and nearly 60% believe that it is mostly due to human activities. Meanwhile, California remains a leader on fighting greenhouse gas emissions, with more than 30% of its energy coming from renewables like solar and wind, a figure that is mandated to double in a decade. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would accelerate its climate change strategies, including a goal to get to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045.
A panel of UC Berkeley experts discussed Monday what effect COVID-19 is having on the environment. (UC Berkeley video)
Ever so slowly, communities around the globe are cautiously easing shelter-in-place orders, and people are heading back to work — bringing with them damaging behaviors that hurt the environment and impact climate change, such as increased reliance on single-use plastic grocery bags.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, say four UC Berkeley environmental and energy experts. Instead, they say, the current COVID-19 pandemic offers lessons in how shared global solutions can help beat back the continued threat of climate change.
“We can restart the economy and put people back to work, and we have to do so in a way that we’re taking advantage of where renewable energy is today — then there’s a really positive opportunity,” said Dan Kammen, professor and chair of the Energy Resources Group and professor of public policy and nuclear engineering. “We have to put people back to work in a way that’s equitable and green.”
Disposable plastic bags have made a comeback as people have grown leery of being too close to other people and their possessions. In a number of cities and states, including San Francisco, new bans on plastic bags have been delayed or existing bans have been temporarily halted and customers ordered not to bring into shops their own bags, mugs or reusable items from home.
Kammen, along with colleagues David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources, Kate O’Neill, professor of environmental science, policy and management, and Valeri Vasquez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Energy and Resources Group, were part of a Berkeley Conversations panel that examined on Monday how the pandemic has caused seismic shifts in how we produce and consume goods and could also open a path to a more sustainable future.
“Right before the outbreak, we were actually starting to feel like we could make a real difference in terms of getting rid of single-use plastics and solving a lot of the issues with global waste streams,” O’Neill said. “But for any of us who’ve been in the Berkeley Bowl parking lot recently, one of the first things we might have noticed is a lot more litter. Plastic bags, rubber gloves, masks. This is something we’re going to have to push back on and really question. The main problem coming up is going to be reinstating zero waste policies once (the pandemic) is over.”
Vasquez underscored how the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing deep societal inequities and also demonstrating the interconnectedness of health, climate and sustainability issues.
“The public health and climate debates are really inextricably linked,” she said. “In our highly connected world, a disease that originated 3,000 or 6,000 miles away can be at our doorsteps in a day or less. So, the way that we mobilize against COVID-19 needs to be reflected in the way that we mobilize against that other big global affliction called climate change.”
Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19, are a series of live, online events featuring faculty experts from across the UC Berkeley campus who are sharing what they know, and what they are learning, about the pandemic. All conversations are recorded and available for viewing at any time on the Berkeley Conversations website.
Click here for conference details: April 26.
Many in the ML community wish to take action on climate change, yet feel their skills are inapplicable. This workshop aims to show that in fact the opposite is true: while no silver bullet, ML can be an invaluable tool both in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in helping society adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate change is a complex problem, for which action takes many forms - from designing smart electrical grids to tracking deforestation in satellite imagery. Many of these actions represent high-impact opportunities for real-world change, as well as being interesting problems for ML research.
As the nation shifts abruptly into the fight against coronavirus, a question arises: could social isolation help reduce an individual’s production of greenhouse gases and end up having unexpected consequences for climate change?
The biggest sources of carbon emissions caused by our lifestyles come from three activities, said Kimberly Nicholas, a researcher at the Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies in Sweden: “Any time you can avoid getting on a plane, getting in a car or eating animal products, that’s a substantial climate savings.” Many people trying to avoid the coronavirus are already two-thirds of the way there.
Dr. Christopher M. Jones, lead developer at the CoolClimate Network, an applied research consortium at the U.C. Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, said that “all these extra precautions that schools and businesses are taking to keep people home are saving lives, and that’s clearly what’s most important.” Having said that, he added that many of the actions people are taking in response to the coronavirus outbreak could have a benefit of a reduced carbon footprint — though others would have little effect or could even expand it.
Robert Frank will visit GSPP on Monday, Jan. 27, from 3-5 pm in the Living Room to discuss his upcoming book, Under the Influence. The book will officially be for sale on Tuesday, Jan. 28 in stores.
“After more than three decades, the public is finally beginning to grasp what a serious threat global warming poses. What’s missing from the climate conversation now is a plausible narrative about how we might parry this threat. Drawing on ideas from his recently published book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work, Robert Frank explains why our ability to tap the prodigious power of behavioral contagion may make the path forward less daunting than many think.”
Robert H. Frank is the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management. For more than a decade, his "Economic View" column appeared monthly in The New York Times. He received his BS in mathematics from Georgia Tech and then taught math and science for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Nepal. He holds an MA in statistics and a Ph.D. in economics, both from the University of California at Berkeley. His papers have appeared in the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, and other leading professional journals.
His books have been translated into 23 languages, including Choosing the Right Pond, Passions Within Reason, Microeconomics and Behavior, Principles of Economics (with Ben Bernanke), Luxury Fever, What Price the Moral High Ground?, Falling Behind, The Economic Naturalist, The Darwin Economy, and Success and Luck.
Please join us for light refreshments after the discussion at 4:30 pm.
Event website: click here.