Improving Climate Change Mitigation Analysis

A major new paper in the journal One Earth from a collaboration between U.S. and European authors on the importance of incorporating behavioral, cultural, social, and political considerations into integrated assessment models of greenhouse gas emissions pathways, especially in the context of the IPCC process. Abstract: Limiting global warming to 2°C or less compared with pre-industrial temperatures will require unprecedented rates of decarbonization globally. The scale and scope of transformational change required across sectors and actors in society raises critical questions of feasibility.

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A Framework for Assessing Private Climate Governance

Mike Vandenbergh and I have a new paper out, in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, on our three-part framework for assessing the impacts of private climate governance. We discussed our three-part framework in previous writing, such as “Accounting for Political Feasibility”, “Beyond Gridlock”, and Beyond Politics. Here, we discuss some practical steps toward applying the framework to assessing the prospects and potential impacts of private climate governance and some of the research needs and priorities for using our framework more broadly.

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Short film on my Bangladesh research

A short film about my collaborative interdisciplinary research project in Bangladesh is featured at the AGU Cinema at the 2019 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, and is also available on YouTube. The film, by Andre Leroux, focuses on interdisciplinary research on the changing river systems of Bangladesh and the prospect of sustainably managing the delta in the face of climate change and sea-level rise.

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Workshop on River Navigability and Inland Shipping in Bangladesh

Workshop on River Navigability and Inland Shipping in Bangladesh: Economic Importance and Impacts of Environmental Change On a recent trip to Bangladesh I collaborated with Dr. Bishawjit Mallick (Chair of Environmental Development and Risk Management at Technische Universität Dresden), the environmental activist collective Riverine People, and Professor Md. Monirul Islam at Dhaka University, and representatives of the School of Environmental Science and Management at the Independent University of Bangladesh and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development to organize a workshop on River Navigability and Inland Shipping in Bangladesh with a focus on the economic impact of formal and informal use of inland waterways for passenger and cargo traffic.

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Urban Water Conservation Policies in the United States

Cities face challenges on many fronts as they work to assure their residents of safe and reliable access to water. Changes in both supply and demand are driven by complex interactions among many human and natural factors, such as drought, infrastructure, population growth, and land-use. Climate change adds new complexities and uncertainties as cities plan for the future. In the past, challenges to water security were addressed by Promethean energy- and technology-intensive infrastructure projects, such as long-distance transfers, desalination, and artificial aquifer recharge; but in recent years, attention to soft approaches has grown.

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Dangerous Assumptions Revisited

Comparisons of observed trends of energy and carbon intensity in the global economy to trends implied by emissions scenarios used in policy analysis suggested that those scenarios were severely over-optimistic about the rate at which the world would spontaneously decarbonize its economy. I update these analysis, using global emissions since 2005, and find that observed rates of decarbonization are not far behind those implied by the RCP 4.5 policy scenario.

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Are Cops on the Science Beat?

It is important to keep outright falsehoods out of journalism and the scientific literature. Creationism and fear-mongering about vaccine safety do not deserve equal time with biological and medical science. But in matters of regulatory science, where there is not a clear consensus on methods and where it is impossible to strictly separate factual judgments from political ones, the literature on science in policy offers strong support for keeping discourse open and free, even though it may become heated. But it also calls on individual scientists to consider how the results of their research and their public statements about it are likely to be used.

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Government action isn't enough for climate change: The private sector can cut billions of tons of carbon

With President Trump's announcement to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, many other countries around the world—and cities and states within the U.S.—are stepping up their commitments to address climate change.

But one thing is clear: Even if all the remaining participating nations do their part, governments alone can't substantially reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.

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Morrison Prize

The Program on Law and Sustainability at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has awarded the Morrison Prize to Mike Vandenbergh and me for our article “Beyond Gridlock,” 40 Columbia Environmental Law Journal, 217–303 (2015). The Morrison prize recognizes the paper published in the previous year in North America that is “likely to have the most significant positive long-term impact on the advancement of the environmental sustainability movement.

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