News Archive:

Knowledge@Wharton — the IPCC 1.5 degree Report

To lis­ten to the pod­cast RAEL did on the IPCC 1.5 degree Report, click here.



The UN’s lat­est cli­mate change report should spur coun­tries and busi­nesses to take quick and effec­tive steps to com­bat global warm­ing, says Pro­fes­sor Dan Kam­men of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley.  To hear the whole pod­cast, click below.

Right ref­er­ence:


KQED Newsroom with Thuy Vu — Climate Change Solutions.

On KQED News­room, Octo­ber 12 — 14, 2018

Dan Kammen & Thuy Vu, cal (Rhetoric) and host of KQED Newsroom

Cli­mate Change Goals
This week, a new United Nations report sounded the alarm over world­wide cli­mate again, warn­ing that the most severe effects of cli­mate change — increased flood­ing, drought, wild­fires and heat waves — could start being felt as early as 2040. To avoid these crises, global car­bon emis­sions would need to be slashed by 45 per­cent by 2030, accord­ing to the report. We talk with UC Berke­ley pro­fes­sor of energy Daniel Kam­men about what can be done to reach that goal.

The IPCC 1.5 Degree Report is the focus of the conversation.


To watch, click here:


Students can lead the (Just) Transition on Climate -

From The Daily Cal­i­forn­ian, Tues­day, Octo­ber 8.  Click here to go direct to that link, or here for the Berke­ley­Blog ver­sion.

Vot­ing for a Just Transition


Daniel M Kammen

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Each fall at UC Berke­ley I teach ‘Energy and Soci­ety’, a very unusual course that cov­ers the sci­ence, pol­i­tics, and pol­icy angles needed to under­stand – and to change – our energy sys­tem from one that is now rapidly degrad­ing the planet, to a sus­tain­able, healthy, and equi­table one.  The best fea­ture of this class is that it is a melt­ing pot not only of dif­fer­ent majors, but also of under­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stu­dents work­ing together to mas­ter the material


The first thing we cover, using basic chem­istry that has been well known to sci­ence for over 100 years,is that end­lessly emit­ting green­house gases will warm the planet. We have known sci­en­tif­i­cally since the 1990s that cli­mate change is already impact­ing ecosys­tems, crops, and both human and envi­ron­men­tal health.  We have known for almost two decades that we have already warmed the planet by one degree Cel­sius, and that at two degrees Cel­sius, dra­matic changes to the earth will be every­day events.


Instead of becom­ing a ral­ly­ing cry for inno­va­tion as were the responses to dis­ease (“the war on polio”), food, poverty and nutri­tion (“the Green Rev­o­lu­tion”) or the desire to reach space (“the Apollo pro­gram”), cli­mate change has become, arguably, the most divi­sive issue in the United States.  Where we used to see chal­lenge as an oppor­tu­nity, this one, inex­plic­a­bly has become a proxy-​​war for eco­nomic inse­cu­rity and class division.


After all, the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, launched under Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Nixon and passed through House and Sen­ate Com­mit­tees in 1970.  TheClean Air Actbecame law in 1970, where it passed the Sen­ate with­out a sin­gle ‘no’ vote. Only one rep­re­sen­ta­tive voted against the bill.  Against expec­ta­tions, George H. W. Bush fea­tured the envi­ron­ment promi­nently in his cam­paign, and in 1988 his pres­i­dency saw an expan­sive update to the Clean Air Act which the Sen­ate passed with bipar­ti­san support.


Since then, how­ever, things have dete­ri­o­rated, with atten­tion and invest­ment in envi­ron­men­tal qual­ity at local, to national, and at global lev­els becom­ing the ‘third rail’ of U.S. politics.


This is where local action by Cal stu­dents is so crit­i­cal.  As the acknowl­edged top pub­lic uni­ver­sity in the world, Cal stu­dents, staff, fac­ulty and alumni have helped to make Cal­i­for­nia the remark­able energy and cli­mate leader that it is, but have also found a myr­iad of ways to spread those expe­ri­ences across the coun­try and around the world.  That reach has never been more impor­tant than now as we approach the most impor­tant mid-​​term elec­tion in decades.


At the Cli­mate Action Global Sum­mitin San Fran­cisco last month I heard an approach that harkened back to the bipar­ti­san­found­ing of the U.S. EPA.. This new vision was stated most clearly and elo­quently not by politi­cians, ora­tors, or sci­en­tists, but by high-​​school and col­lege stu­dents who gath­ered in a series of youth sum­mits orga­nized within and around the offi­cial meetings.


What is most ironic is that cli­mate change is actu­ally one of the most inter­est­ing issues and oppor­tu­ni­ties we as a coun­try have ever faced because its solu­tion cre­ates eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties. Every bit of coal, gas, or oil that we replace with energy effi­ciency and clean energy is a shift away from min­ing resources to invest­ing in com­pa­nies and invest­ing in peo­ple.  After all, when the fuel is free, cre­at­ing new tech­nolo­gies and build­ing social insti­tu­tions and poli­cies are all ways to invest in our­selves and to both cre­ate employ­ment and to use data and insti­tu­tions to grow the econ­omy.  My lab­o­ra­tory here at UC Berke­ley has been research­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the green jobs ‘div­i­dend’ and has been doing work witha series of stu­dents, many of whom are alumni of ‘Energy and Society’.


The clean energy oppor­tu­nity is aligned with core val­ues – at least those stated on paper – by both the Demo­c­ra­tic and Repub­li­can par­ties. Instead of one of the few places for bipar­ti­san action, how­ever, it has become an area where even the most basic facts are end­lessly debated.  As research launched at Berke­ley has shown, invest­ments in mass tran­sit and for those who need cars, elec­tric vehi­cles are not only cheaper to oper­ate than gas-​​powered cars, but they also lead to dra­matic reduc­tions in urban air pol­lu­tion, a hall­mark of Cal­i­for­nia poli­cies since the 1970s.


As inequal­ity has grown across Amer­ica, UC-​​based research has con­tin­ued to high­light the many exam­ples of well-​​meaning poli­cies (such as sub­si­diz­ing elec­tric vehi­cles for the afflu­ent) that exac­er­bate the grow­ing national eco­nomic divide.  Instead, efforts launched here to invest in more afford­able homes and apart­ments by inte­grat­ing energy effi­ciency, solar, power, and both bet­ter mass-​​transit and elec­tric vehi­cles for low-​​income Cal­i­for­ni­ans offers a sus­tain­able path to social equity.


Of par­tic­u­lar note is that California’s land­mark cli­mate leg­is­la­tion, SB32which gov­erns our state decar­boniza­tion from 2020 – 2030, calls for 35% or more, of our green­house gas cap and trade rev­enues (now in the $10 billion/​year range) to be spent on under­served minor­ity com­mu­ni­ties. I’ll wager that when we look back this bill, it will be this invest­ment in social jus­tice, not the cli­mate tar­get that will be its most impor­tant legacy.


This is where the Cal stu­dents can play a most imme­di­ate and hugely impact­ful nation­wide role: by reach­ing out to fel­low stu­dents, par­ents, and friends both across Cal­i­for­nia and across the coun­try to high­light how dou­bling down on equi­tableclean energy projects offers a rare and gen­uine ‘win-​​win’ at a time when the coun­try is more divided than ever.


Daniel Kam­men is pro­fes­sor and chair of the Energy and Resources Group, and Pro­fes­sor in the Gold­man School of Pub­lic Pol­icy, and in the Depart­ment of Nuclear Engi­neer­ing.  He served in the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion as Sci­ence Envoy for the State Department. 

Twit­ter: @dan_kammen

KQED Newsroom with Thuy Vu: the Climate Action Summit (TV)

To watch the show,  click here.

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Cli­mate Action Summit

San Fran­cisco Hosts Global Cli­mate Sum­mit
Just days after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill requir­ing California’s energy sources to be com­pletely clean and renew­able by 2045, thou­sands of peo­ple gath­ered in San Fran­cisco for the Global Cli­mate Action Sum­mit. The three-​​day event, fea­tur­ing politi­cians from around the world, CEOs from com­pa­nies like Star­bucks and Sales­force, and celebri­ties like Har­ri­son Ford, was launched to show that cities, states, regions and indus­tries are step­ping up to meet the carbon-​​cutting tar­gets of the 2015 Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment despite the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back envi­ron­men­tal protections.


Climate Action Summit: dialog with former Secretary of State John Kerry on carbon pricing


At the Global Cli­mate Action Sum­mit one of the inter­est­ing events was a multi-​​university sum­mit on car­bon pric­ing.  Yale Uni­ver­sity, Smith Col­lege, Swarth­more Col­lege, and both myself and Prof. Ann Carl­son from UCLA par­tic­i­pated in a dis­cus­sion about the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties to price exter­nal­i­ties in uni­ver­sity actions.




Cap­tion: Prof. Ann Carl­son (sec­ond from left), Dan Kam­men, (third from left), next to for­mer Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, Kammen’s for­mer ‘boss’ when he served as Sci­ence Envoy, along with col­leagues from the World Bank, Smith Col­lege and Swarth­more College.

On Sept. 13, the sum­mit hosts “Higher Edu­ca­tion Lead­er­ship on Car­bon Pric­ing,” an event focused on the expe­ri­ences of Yale and other schools in imple­ment­ing inter­nal car­bon pric­ing on cam­pus. For­mer U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry will speak at the event, which also will include Yale Car­bon Charge direc­tor Casey Pick­ett and Yale Asso­ciate Vice Pres­i­dent for Strat­egy and Ana­lyt­ics Tim Pavlis.

At the event, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Yale, Swarth­more Col­lege, the non­profit group Sec­ond Nature, and the Car­bon Pric­ing Lead­er­ship Coali­tion will unveil a Higher Edu­ca­tion Car­bon Pric­ing Toolkit. It is the most com­pre­hen­sive com­pi­la­tion of exist­ing tools for imple­ment­ing inter­nal car­bon pric­ing on col­lege and uni­ver­sity campuses.

When I share Yale’s approach to car­bon pric­ing, peo­ple often ask, ‘How does it work? What options are there for my insti­tu­tion to put a price on car­bon emis­sions?’ This toolkit begins to answer those ques­tions,” Pick­ett said.

Car­bon pric­ing refers to the idea of plac­ing an extra charge on prod­ucts or ser­vices based on the amount of car­bon they emit. Hun­dreds of busi­nesses, pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties, and other insti­tu­tions — includ­ing Yale — now have some ver­sion of a car­bon pric­ing pro­gram in place.

Yale has taken a lead­er­ship role in explor­ing dif­fer­ent approaches to car­bon pric­ing and shar­ing its find­ings. In 2017, Yale became the first uni­ver­sity to imple­ment a finan­cially impact­ful fee on car­bon emis­sions for more than 250 build­ings and 70% of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions on campus.

A carbon charge pledge display on Yale’s Cross Campus.

Since Yale began exper­i­ment­ing with inter­nal car­bon pric­ing through our pilot study, six other higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions have imple­mented car­bon pric­ing mech­a­nisms,” Pick­ett said. “Each works a bit dif­fer­ently. There is much to learn from car­bon pric­ing exper­i­ments in dif­fer­ent contexts.”

The best prac­tices regard­ing car­bon pric­ing that Yale has accu­mu­lated are part of the new toolkit, which includes case stud­ies, com­mu­ni­ca­tion guides, and data man­age­ment tools.

The Yale Car­bon Charge idea orig­i­nated with eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor Bill Nord­haus, who devel­oped the “social cost of car­bon” con­cept, an esti­mate of the cost of global dam­ages from an addi­tional ton of car­bon diox­ide emit­ted. After Nord­haus sug­gested the value of hav­ing an inter­nal car­bon charge, a group of Yale stu­dents advanced the idea.

Yale Pres­i­dent Peter Salovey orga­nized a Pres­i­den­tial Task Force to study the idea. The task force rec­om­mended test­ing a pilot project, which began in the fall of 2015.

We must incor­po­rate the social costs of our emis­sions into our eco­nomic choices,” Pavlis said. “When we don’t pay a price for car­bon emis­sions, every­one pays the cost.”

KQED Forum with Michael Krasny: California Lawmakers Pass Bill Phasing Out Fossil Fuels by 2045

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To lis­ten to the show or down­load the pod­cast: click here.

Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers passed a bill that would require 100 per­cent of the state’s energy to come from carbon-​​free sources. The pro­posal would set a goal of phas­ing out all fos­sil fuels by 2045 but does not include a man­date or penalty. Sup­port­ers say the mea­sure would help address cli­mate change and boost California’s clean energy econ­omy. Crit­ics say the bill is unre­al­is­tic and would sad­dle fam­i­lies and busi­nesses with higher energy bills. The mea­sure now heads to the governor’s desk.


Dan Kam­men, pro­fes­sor of energy, UC Berke­ley; direc­tor, Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory at UC Berkeley

Dorothy Rothrock, pres­i­dent, Cal­i­for­nia Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Tech­nol­ogy Association

Lau­ren Som­mer, sci­ence and envi­ron­ment reporter, KQED

Op Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle

Green energy is gold for Cal­i­for­nia and the US 

Daniel M Kammen

For the arti­cle pdf, click here.

I am a physi­cist, and an energy and sus­tain­abil­ity sci­ence researcher, and I live in Cal­i­for­nia because of its pen­chant for not just set­ting but actu­ally achiev­ing big goals and adopt­ing bold visions oth­ers may con­sider too ambi­tious. What Cal­i­for­nia pro­poses, we research, debate and then accom­plish. In fact, we often exceed the goals skep­tics have deemed unmeetable. This is why I believe that Cal­i­for­nia should — and ulti­mately will — pass into law the “100 Per­cent Clean Energy Act” (Sen­ate Bill 100), which would estab­lish a bold goal of 100 per­cent clean, zero-​​carbon elec­tric­ity by 2045.

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To fully appre­ci­ate the mul­ti­fac­eted ben­e­fits of SB100 for Cal­i­for­nia and the coun­try, a bit of his­tory is needed.

Thanks to a law Cal­i­for­nia passed in 2002 (the Renew­ables Port­fo­lio Stan­dard), the state has nearly tripled its use of elec­tric­ity pro­duced from renew­able resources. Today, solar, wind, bio­mass, and geot­her­mal power (the “renew­ables”) meet more than a third of the state’s elec­tric­ity demand — up from 12 per­cent in only a decade.

Just last month, the Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board announced that the state has met its goal of reduc­ing green­house gas emis­sions below 1990 lev­els in 2016 — a full four years ahead of its 2020 dead­line. Our sys­tem of renew­able elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion is a key dri­ver of that success.

In fact, the state Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion has esti­mated that Cal­i­for­nia will prob­a­bly meet its goal of pro­duc­ing 50 per­cent of elec­tric­ity from renew­able resources well ahead of the 2030 dead­line. Cal­i­for­nia and New York state have emerged as national lead­ers in energy effi­ciency and in set­ting and meet­ing clean energy tar­gets that together have kept util­ity rates low. Finan­cial ben­e­fits fol­low directly: The major­ity of all U.S. “clean tech” invest­ment has come through these two states.

This tran­si­tion has been a net job gen­er­a­tor: Cal­i­for­nia now has more peo­ple employed in the solar energy indus­try than in tra­di­tional util­i­ties. For 15 years, I have been track­ing job cre­ation in the clean energy sec­tor, where today we find two to four times more jobs in solar, wind, sus­tain­able bio­mass, effi­ciency and energy stor­age than in any fossil-​​fuel sec­tor. The price of wind– and solar-​​generated energy has dropped faster than expected and is cost-​​competitive or cheaper than the cost of build­ing new fossil-​​fuel-​​powered plants. The fact that the best solar and wind energy projects are actu­ally cheaper than nat­ural gas has been an enor­mous sur­prise to many not fol­low­ing the sec­tor closely.

Next up is for Cal­i­for­nia to estab­lish the bold new goal to power our state with 100 per­cent zero-​​carbon energy by 2045. SB100 would man­date that 60 per­cent of our elec­tric­ity demand be met with renew­able sources, and allows flex­i­bil­ity for how the other 40 per­cent might be met via addi­tional renew­ables, exist­ing large hydropower, or other clean energy sources — includ­ing new tech­nolo­gies. Some crit­ics note that SB100 does not explic­itly pro­hibit car­bon emis­sions if we also cap­ture the car­bon. This is less use­ful — and more expen­sive — in my analy­sis than a mix­ture of zero car­bon sources and energy stor­age, but per­mit­ting the flex­i­bil­ity is a broader, more inclu­sive man­date that does not try to pick spe­cific win­ners and losers.

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More syn­er­gies between clean energy and jobs for Cal­i­for­ni­ans exist here, too. The same wave of inno­va­tion we saw in solar energy — where Cal­i­for­nia played key research and deploy­ment roles — we now are see­ing in the energy stor­age indus­try. Cal­i­for­nia is lead­ing this charge, too, and stands to profit in rev­enue and more jobs.

Big trans­for­ma­tional goals are proven dri­vers of inno­va­tion. In 2005, the Leg­is­la­ture passed leg­is­la­tion that set a tar­get of 1 mil­lion solar rooftops by 2020. At the time, the typ­i­cal response was that it was too ambi­tious, and more details were needed. Today, Cal­i­for­nia has close to 700,000 solar rooftops, well on the way to the goal. Each rooftop saves the home­owner money, too, as solar power costs pen­cil out at under 5 cents per kilowatt-​​hour, while utility-​​generated power retails at more than four times that cost. Despite some legal and reg­u­la­tory bat­tles, res­i­den­tial rooftop solar saves util­i­ties money, too, as rooftops are gen­er­at­ing power dur­ing the day — i.e., dur­ing the time of the peak of power demand. Any extra gen­er­a­tion can be put into storage.

Since 1999 I have served as a coor­di­nat­ing lead author for the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change, where sci­en­tists have rec­og­nized that clean and renew­able energy sources must become the dom­i­nant source of elec­tric­ity pow­er­ing build­ings, indus­try and trans­porta­tion if we are to avoid the worst cli­mate change effects that threaten Cal­i­for­nia. As the world’s fifth-​​largest econ­omy, Cal­i­for­nia will gain eco­nom­i­cally as we develop new tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices that oth­ers will need as they work toward global cli­mate goals. Cur­rent polit­i­cal trou­bles aside, this is where the United States must go.

As the world will see at the Global Cli­mate Action Sum­mit that Cal­i­for­nia will host Sept. 12–14 in San Fran­cisco, we have demon­strated the capac­ity and lead­er­ship needed to achieve big goals. SB100 sets a new goal for a clean, healthy and prof­itable energy sys­tem. With the global clean energy mar­ket grow­ing far faster that the fossil-​​fuel sec­tor, what Cal­i­for­nia is doing is a good busi­ness deci­sion for the state and the nation.

In The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle, August 17, 2018.  Click here for the direct link.

To access from the RAEL pub­li­ca­tions pages, click here.

To access on the Berke­ley Blog, click here.

Daniel M. Kam­men is the found­ing direc­tor of the Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory and direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Envi­ron­men­tal Pub­lic Pol­icy at UC Berke­ley. Kam­men has served as the chief tech­ni­cal spe­cial­ist for renew­able energy at the World Bank, and sci­ence envoy for the U.S. State Depart­ment. Twit­ter: @dan_kammen To com­ment, sub­mit your let­ter to the edi­tor at SFChron​i​cle​.com/​l​e​t​t​ers.


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