Getting to 2050

A roadmap for achieving an 80% emissions cut.

To do its part in keeping climate change to tolerable levels, the United States needs to cut its carbon emissions at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  That’s not just a matter of decarbonizing the electricity sector; it means changes in everything from aviation to steel manufacture, and reducing not only CO2 but also […]

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Sen. Portantino Spikes California’s Critical Housing & Climate Legislation

Will Gov. Newsom and Sen. Atkins Rescue SB 50?

California faces a dual crisis: a massive housing shortage leading to displacement and spiraling economic inequality; and an increase in driving miles and related greenhouse gas emissions which threaten to undermine the state’s progress achieving its climate goals. Both of these crises were solidly addressed in Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB 50, which seeks to ease […]

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California Housing Reform Goes Into Suspended Animation

NIMBYs Win A Battle, But Trench Warfare Continues

  The NIMBYs have won a battle: A high-profile bill that would have increased home building near mass transit and in single-family home neighborhoods across California has been killed for the year, ending a major battle over how to address the state’s housing affordability crisis that has attracted attention nationwide. Senate Bill 50 by Sen. […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Revive Challenge to Oregon Clean Fuels Program

Legal Challenges to Oregon & California Vehicle Fuel Carbon-Intensity Standards Close to the End of the Line, Clearing Path Forward to Transformative Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation Sector

This past Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of a federal appeals court decision upholding the legality of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program. That decision finally frees Oregon’s program from uncertainty from what was seen as a significant legal challenge. The program, modeled after the similar California Low Carbon Fuel Standard developed by the California […]

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Phase Changes in Public Opinion

Public opinion on an issue like climate change can sometimes flip quickly. Here’s why.

You might think that the public’s view of an issue – climate change for instance – would evolve continuously as events occur and information becomes available. That often may be the case, but sometimes public opinion can change relatively quickly. A prime example is the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, which went from being a weird, […]

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In Defense of Live Carbon

Why Stopping Deforestation May be the Hardest and Most Important Part of the Climate Change Challenge

When contemplating the enormous challenge of global climate change, it is sometimes helpful to think about a simple model of the global carbon budget (see figure below).  These admittedly reductionist schematics distinguish between sources, sinks, and reservoirs.  Fossil hydrocarbons from the geological reservoir–call this dead carbon—are extracted and burned to generate energy, emitting vast amounts […]

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Could Genetically Modified Organisms Help Conserve Biodiversity?

Oxitec GM mosquitoes are released in the Cayman Islands. Photo by Taneos Ramsay of the Cayman Compass.

The second in a series examines GMOs intentionally released into the wild

Last week, I introduced what I call “first generation” genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – altered bacteria for diverse, mostly indoor purposes – and “second generation” ones – GM crops and agricultural animals. Here, I describe third generation GMOs, which are those that would be intentionally placed into natural environments, where they would live, reproduce, and […]

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Developing a Decision-Support Framework for Curtailment

Part 5 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

During a drought, California’s limited water supplies should be allocated transparently, efficiently, and predictably in accordance with the priorities that flow from state and federal law.  But what does this mean in practice? What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed?  California water rights law says that certain […]

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Climate Change and Your Family’s Future

How much climate change will you see in your lifetime? How about your kids? 

If you think about yourself and the two generations after you, a lot depends on your current age, whether you already have kids, etc.  To keep this from getting too complicated, let’s focus on someone who was born in the US at the start of the millennium, in 2000.  To simplify, I won’t specify gender […]

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Genetically Modified Organisms Return to the International Policy Agenda

March Against Monsanto, Vancouver, May 25, 2013. Photo by Rosalee Yagihara, CC BY 2.0

This first in a series begins by looking back at GMOs and environmental law

Although the big news in international biodiversity this week was the release of the summary of the first global assessment from a relatively new UN-affiliated body, the topic of another report warrants attention as well. Yesterday the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its findings on “the potential positive and negative impacts of synthetic […]

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