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Embrace equity to win on climate goals

Carol Zabin, research director, Center for Labor Research & Education | September 13, 2016

By Carol Zabin and Manuel Pastor California has taken a historic stride by setting the next generation of targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts — and in the process, a new political coalition has emerged that will be sorely needed in the daunting task of figuring out how to actually meet those goals. The two … Continue reading »

Insights from Standing Rock: as school begins

Tasha Hauff, doctoral student and teacher at Sitting Bull College | September 5, 2016

In January this year I moved to Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to take a position at Sitting Bull College teaching Native American Studies, including the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ language. Standing Rock is where I wanted to be because of its incredible work with indigenous language revitalization, particularly its growing PK-2nd grade immersion school. The Sacred Stone … Continue reading »

Extending Berkeley’s reach

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | August 8, 2016

On July 22, we celebrated the successful completion of the 16th cohort of the Beahrs ELP. Our three-week annual program brings together up-and-coming leaders from around the world to provide training on environmental policy, resource management, conflict resolution, impact assessment, and overview of major topics like water and climate change. The ELP alumni network has … Continue reading »

Why agricultural biotech hasn’t reached its potential

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | July 19, 2016

Some of the key questions we raised as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the ICABR consortium were “why haven’t GMO crops been accepted and adopted as Green Revolution crops or medical rDNA?” “What are the constraints to the adoption of GMO?” “What are the differences among nations?” Several speakers addressed these questions and here … Continue reading »

The housing affordability crisis: Can it be solved?

Sam Davis, professor emeritus, architecture | June 27, 2016

What is affordable housing? In the United States, anyone who spends more than 30 percent of their income on housing is considered “cost burdened,” and has difficultly paying for other of life’s necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and health care. It is surprising how many people fall into this category. The median income in … Continue reading »

Strong environmental regs, spotty enforcement

Dan Farber, professor of law | June 7, 2016

The political debate over regulation tends to focus on the regulations themselves. But enforcing the regulations is just as important. Despite what you might think from the howls of business groups and conservative commentators, the enforcement system is not nearly as strong as it should be. Twenty years after passage of the Clean Water Act, roughly … Continue reading »

Instead of carbon markets, a giant vacuum in the sky?

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | May 31, 2016

I sat next to a distinguished climate scientist at a recent dinner, who told me point blank that “carbon markets have failed, which means one should give up on market based approaches to reducing emissions”. After the ecologist on my other side had heimliched a poached organic beet from my windpipe, I launched a vicious … Continue reading »

Protect city parks, not just rural wilderness

Dan Farber, professor of law | May 23, 2016

“The few green havens that are public parks” is a phrase from the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Overton Park case. The case involved a plan to build a highway through the middle of a major park in Memphis. The Court put a heavy burden on the government to justify the project: “The few green havens that … Continue reading »

Endangered species: The ‘northern’ bias in biodiversity protection

Dan Farber, professor of law | May 5, 2016

U.S. environmentalists are deeply invested in protecting endangered species in their own country. That’s natural, and U.S. biodiversity is worthy of protection. But focusing on the United States gives a misguided sense of the relative importance of U.S. biodiversity. In the grand scheme of things, biodiversity in the global South is far, far more important. A recent … Continue reading »

Talking trash: recovering energy from city waste

Ethan Elkind, associate director, Climate Change and Business Program |

We had a spirited discussion on KALW radio’s “City Visions,” on May 2, concerning the prospects of turning the mountains of trash we’d otherwise send to landfills into energy.  You can listen to the audio here. My takeaway is that despite all our efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, there will always be some (hopefully … Continue reading »

The case for farmed fish

Dan Farber, professor of law | April 29, 2016

It’s time to take a second look at fish farms. Environmentalists, not to mention foodies, tend to turn up their noses at fish farms.  It’s true that badly managed fish farms can be a source of water pollution and other environmental problems.  But sustainable fish farming would have major environmental benefits. To begin with, fish … Continue reading »

Why lenders are leaving $72 billion in energy retrofits on the table

Ethan Elkind, associate director, Climate Change and Business Program |

In the fight to save energy and reduce pollution, everyone always says that energy efficiency is the “low-hanging fruit.”  That’s because upgrading appliances and building performance typically saves enough energy and therefore money to pay for itself in just a few years. So why aren’t commercial building owners in particular taking more advantage of the … Continue reading »

Why are the automakers complaining?

Lucas Davis, Professor, Haas School of Business | April 22, 2016

With gasoline prices averaging $2 per gallon, Americans are flocking to gas-guzzling vehicles. Last year was the biggest year ever for the U.S. auto industry with 17.5 million total vehicle sales nationwide. Trucks, SUVs, and crossovers led the charge with a 13 percent increase compared to 2014. The one problem with selling all these gas … Continue reading »

Of sewage spills and citizen suits

Holly Doremus, professor of law | April 12, 2016

(Co-authored with Nell Green Nylen and Michael Kiparsky.) Every day, Californians produce millions of gallons of wastewater. We tend to avoid thinking about what flows down our drains, but how we deal with sewage is a critically important aspect of public and environmental health. Most communities in California rely on an extensive system of interconnected … Continue reading »

Deep in the heart of Texas: green patches in a red state

Dan Farber, professor of law | March 29, 2016

The Texas Attorney General’s office seems to do little else besides battle against EPA, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz is in the vanguard of anti-environmentalism.  Yet even in Texas there are some rays of hope. While Texas is attacking the Clean Power Plan, the city of Houston is leading a coalition of cities defending it. Other … Continue reading »

Canada’s got a good thing going: a tax on carbon

Meredith Fowlie, Associate Professor and Class of 1935 Distinguished Chair in Energy | March 28, 2016

It’s tax season and this makes many Americans pretty grumpy. According to a recent poll/parody, 27 percent of those surveyed indicate they would rather get an IRS tattoo than pay their taxes. Given the deep-seated ire that taxation can inspire in U.S. taxpayers, it’s not altogether surprising that calls for an economy-wide carbon tax do not find … Continue reading »

Creating an exit strategy for our use of natural gas

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | March 21, 2016

Coal is the climate’s Public Enemy No. 1. The use of natural gas has helped to ensure that the coal problem has not become even worse. Without natural gas, we would use more coal for space heating and for many more industrial processes than is currently the practice. Without natural gas, our reliance on coal for … Continue reading »

Fukushima + 5: Where things stand today

Dan Farber, professor of law | March 11, 2016

Five years ago today, Japan was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami, resulting in the Fukushima reactor meltdowns. Where do things stand today? Here’s a quick wrap-up: Compensation.  The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the utility operating the reactors, now estimates that it will pay $56 billion in compensation to victims. Clean-up. The plant … Continue reading »