Skip to main content

Climate change and the post-election blues

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

I am living in a very blue state. The graph below charts Google searches for “stages of grief.” The spike in grief-stricken web/soul searching corresponds with — you guessed it — the 2016 election. The map shows where, in the days following the election, these searches were happening. Not surprisingly, post-election blues show up disproportionately … Continue reading »

A letter to Mr. Trump: the economic case for energy, equity and climate leadership

Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy | November 15, 2016

Summary: The economic case for clean energy is as compelling as is the climate science. Pursuing both brings together economic advancement and political leadership. The election of Donald Trump in the United States and the installation of a team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy who are climate change skeptics … Continue reading »

Addicted to oil: U.S. gasoline consumption is higher than ever

Lucas Davis, Professor, Haas School of Business | September 26, 2016

August was the biggest month ever for U.S. gasoline consumption. Americans used a staggering 9.7 million barrels per day. That’s more than a gallon per day for every U.S. man, woman and child. The new peak comes as a surprise to many. In 2012, energy expert Daniel Yergin said, “The U.S. has already reached what … Continue reading »

What environmentalists get wrong about e-waste in West Africa

Jenna Burrell, associate professor, School of Information | September 1, 2016

Beginning in 2009, Ghana’s computer import industry went almost instantly from totally invisible, to worldwide infamy. The work of two photojournalists — Pieter Hugo and Kevin McElvaney — played a key role in this newfound visibility. Their imagery of e-waste and its young victims such as cable burners covered in dirt and soot in an area of Ghana’s capital … 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 »

No more Berning of fossil fuels

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | March 10, 2016

For the energy sector a lot is at stake with this next election. Of the GOP front runners, only Marco Rubio has an energy or climate plan on his website. A few choice nuggets are doing away with “Obama’s carbon mandates” (whatever that means), approving Keystone XL immediately, rewriting the offshore drilling plan and creating … Continue reading »

Gas is too cheap

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | February 4, 2016

Readers of this blog are likely aware that oil is really cheap right now. While in July 2008, the U.S. benchmark price peaked at just above $140 a barrel, its price dipped to below $27 in mid-January. The Internet is on fire telling us that a barrel of oil is now cheaper than the equivalent … Continue reading »

The future of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | February 2, 2016

The role that nuclear power could or should play in helping to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions is worthy of serious debate, but the latest nuclear-related front-page story in the San Francisco Chronicle is a head-scratcher. Above the fold, the headline reads “Nuclear plant’s surprise backers,” followed by the following subheading: “Environmentalists push for Diablo Canyon … Continue reading »

Clean technology: Big win in Supreme Court

Ethan Elkind, associate director, Climate Change and Business Program | January 26, 2016

The future of a clean electricity grid will require more decentralization based on clean technology, like solar and energy storage. Large industrial customers are investing in these technologies and also signing up to moderate their electricity demand in response to larger grid needs (i.e. reducing usage when electricity becomes expensive and dirty to produce). Smaller … Continue reading »

Feeling smug about your solar rooftop? Not so fast

Severin Borenstein, professor of business | January 21, 2016

If you installed solar panels on your roof and feel aglow with environmental virtue, you may be in for a rude awakening. There’s a good chance someone else has purchased your halo and is wearing it right now. In most states (including California) power generated by rooftop solar panels earns Renewable Energy Certificates, which quantify how … Continue reading »

Key environmental developments ahead in 2016

Dan Farber, professor of law | January 2, 2016

The year 2015 was a big one for agency regulations and international negotiations. In 2016, the main focal points will be the political process and the courts. Here are seven major things to watch for. The presidential election. The election will have huge consequences for the environment. A Republican President is almost sure to try to roll … Continue reading »

Does the Paris agreement open the door to geoengineering?

Dan Farber, professor of law | December 14, 2015

The Paris establishes an aspiration goal of holding climate change to 1.5°C, with a firmer goal of holding the global temperature decrease “well below” 2°C. As a practical matter, the 1.5°C goal almost certainly would require geoengineering, such as injecting aerosols into the stratosphere or solar mirrors. Even getting well below 2°C is likely to … Continue reading »

You have the right to generate your own electricity

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | December 4, 2015

Do people have the right to generate electricity for their own use and still remain connected to the grid? Of course they do. You see it every day. Without prior registration or a background check, anyone can go into a hardware store and buy a diesel generator. Homeowners and businesses can install rooftop solar photovoltaics … Continue reading »

Good energy books for 2015

Catherine Wolfram, faculty co-director, Energy Institute at Haas | November 30, 2015

Soon, many of you will be asked what you might want as a Hanukah or Christmas gift. Or, maybe you’ve already been asked by a Cyber-Monday-ing relative. Others may soon be on planes to or from Paris. So, what better time to evaluate this year’s crop of energy reads? Last year, I asked for suggestions … Continue reading »

Special guest lecture: ‘Is a sustainable global economy possible?’

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | August 27, 2015

Like every university, UC Berkeley is home to an intellectual chasm that makes the Grand Canyon look like Strawberry Creek. Classical economists teach a world where economic growth is sacred, perpetual and always good. Those in the life sciences and some physical sciences, such as energy and astronomy, understand that our world is small and finite. Faculty … Continue reading »

From Carter to Obama: A new context for a message on energy, economy and environment

Robert Chester, lecturer, history department | August 14, 2015

More than 35 years ago, President Jimmy Carter gave a courageous yet unpopular speech outlining the environmental and economic forces threatening American affluence. He acknowledged his conversation with the American people as “an unpleasant talk  . . . about an . . . unprecedented problem in our history.” He went on to tell Americans what … Continue reading »

What the market is telling us about coal

Dan Farber, professor of law | August 13, 2015

The market’s message is simple: coal’s day is ending. Three major coal companies (Alpha Natural Resources, Walter Energy, and Patriot Coal) have gone into bankruptcy. The two largest publicly traded  companies (Peabody and Arch) are now trading for a dollar a share, down from $16 and $33 within the past year. They, too, may well … Continue reading »

Injecting earthquakes

Dan Farber, professor of law | July 13, 2015

A recent study of injection wells and earthquakes got a lot of press, but the reports missed an important nuance.  The study, published in the June 19 edition of Science, found a definite connection between well injection and earthquakes. But there was an interesting wrinkle: “The scientists found that disposal wells were 1.5 times more likely to be … Continue reading »

Energy options: Just say ‘Nein’ to nukes and coal?

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | June 2, 2015

On March 11, 2011, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Berlin, dressed appropriately in a black turtleneck and leather jacket, reading about the terrible Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster. The next day I read that the German government was pushing for “Atomausstieg,” which is German for “let’s retire all nuclear generating capacity.” Eighty percent of … Continue reading »

Is residential solar really the future of electricity generation?

Severin Borenstein, professor of business | May 8, 2015

Renewable energy technologies have made outstanding progress in the last decade.  The cost of solar panels has plummeted.  Wind turbines have become massively more efficient.  In many places some forms of renewable energy are cost competitive.  And yet…just as these exciting changes are taking place, the renewables movement seems to be shifting its focus to … Continue reading »