Full video of presentation, “Innovating for the clean energy economy” @ MIT Energy Initiative

For the video of the talk: click here.

Talk deliv­ered Feb­ru­ary 19, 2018

Daniel Kam­men is a pro­fes­sor of energy at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, with par­al­lel appoint­ments in the Energy and Resources Group (which he chairs), the Gold­man School of Pub­lic Pol­icy, and the Depart­ment of Nuclear Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing. Recently, he gave a talk at MITEI exam­in­ing the cur­rent state of clean energy inno­va­tion and imple­men­ta­tion, both in the U.S. and inter­na­tion­ally. Using a com­bi­na­tion of ana­lyt­i­cal and empir­i­cal approaches, he dis­cussed the strengths and weak­nesses of clean energy efforts on the house­hold, city, and regional levels.

Q: Your team has built energy tran­si­tion mod­els for sev­eral coun­tries, includ­ing Chile, Nicaragua, China, and India. Can you describe how these mod­els work and how they can inform global cli­mate nego­ti­a­tions like the Paris Accords?

A: My lab­o­ra­tory has worked with three gov­ern­ments to build open-​​source mod­els of the cur­rent state of their energy sys­tems and pos­si­ble oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment. This model, SWITCH, is an excep­tion­ally high-​​resolution plat­form for exam­in­ing the costs, reli­a­bil­ity, and car­bon emis­sions of energy sys­tems as small as Nicaragua’s and as large as China’s. The excit­ing recent devel­op­ments in the cost and per­for­mance improve­ments of solar, wind, energy stor­age, and elec­tric vehi­cles per­mit the plan­ning of dra­mat­i­cally decar­bonized sys­tems that have a wide range of ancil­lary ben­e­fits: increased reli­a­bil­ity, improved air qual­ity, and mon­e­tiz­ing energy effi­ciency, to name just a few. With the Paris Cli­mate Accords plac­ing 80% or greater decar­boniza­tion tar­gets on all nations’ agen­das (sadly, except for the U.S. fed­eral gov­ern­ment), the need for an ‘hon­est bro­ker’ for the costs and oper­a­tional issues around power sys­tems is key.

Q: At the end of your talk, you men­tioned a car­bon foot­print cal­cu­la­tor that you helped cre­ate. How much do indi­vid­ual behav­iors mat­ter in address­ing cli­mate change?

A: The car­bon foot­print, or Cool­Cli­mate project, is a visu­al­iza­tion and behav­ioral eco­nom­ics tool that can be used to high­light the impacts of indi­vid­ual deci­sions at the house­hold, school, and city level. We have used it to sup­port city-​​city com­pe­ti­tions for “California’s coolest city,” to explore the rel­a­tive impacts of life­time choices (buy­ing an elec­tric vehi­cle ver­sus or along with changes of diet), and more.

Q: You touched on the topic of the “high ambi­tion coali­tion,” a COP21 goal of keep­ing warm­ing under 1.5 degrees Cel­sius. Can you expand on this move­ment and the car­bon neg­a­tive strate­gies it would require?

A: As we look at paths to a sus­tain­able global energy sys­tem, efforts to limit warm­ing to 1.5 degrees Cel­sius will require not only zero­ing out indus­trial and agri­cul­tural emis­sions, but also remov­ing car­bon from the atmos­phere. This demands increas­ing nat­ural car­bon sinks by pre­serv­ing or expand­ing forests, sus­tain­ing ocean sys­tems, and mak­ing agri­cul­ture cli­mate– and water-​​smart. One path­way, bio­mass energy with car­bon cap­ture and seques­tra­tion, has both sup­port­ers and detrac­tors. It involves grow­ing bio­mass, using it for energy, and then seques­ter­ing the emissions.


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For the Green Stim­u­lus Open Let­ter to Con­gress, click here. Press cov­er­age of the let­ter includes: 3./24/2020 - City­Lab.  A green stim­u­lus plan for the post-​​​​coronavirus econ­omy. 3/​​24/​​2020 - Mar­ket­Watch. A green-​​​​minded stim­u­lus to save the econ­omy from coro­n­avirus?  This goops thinks it has the $2 tril­lion answer. 3/​​24/​​2020 - Time Mag­a­zine. What Coro­n­avirus means for the pos­si­bil­ity of a […]

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A Green Stim­u­lus to Rebuild Our Econ­omy We will post the doc­u­ment and links at 1:00 PM PDT, Mon­day, March 23 to coin­cide with our news con­fer­ence WHO WILL BE SPEAKING:  Johanna Bozuwa, Co-​​​​Manager, Cli­mate & Energy Pro­gram, The Democ­racy Col­lab­o­ra­tive (@johannabozuwa) Mijin Cha, Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Urban and Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy, Occi­den­tal Col­lege; Fel­low at Cor­nell University […]

Social Distancing? You Might Be Fighting Climate Change, Too

In The New York Times, March 13, 2020: 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 […]

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For the orig­i­nal arti­cle, click here. Reports from Italy detail the grim real­ity of a nation on lock­down. All busi­nesses but phar­ma­cies and food stores have shut their doors. Air­lines are can­cel­ing flights, and road­blocks pre­vent peo­ple from leav­ing or enter­ing some towns. It presents a glimpse of how dra­mat­i­cally Amer­i­can life could change if COVID-​​​​19 spreads […]

UCTV: Social Justice and the Fight Against Climate Change

Feb­ru­ary 24, 2020 For the UCTV video, click here.

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