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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 »

On environmental policy, 2016 is the year of living dangerously

Dan Farber, professor of law | January 12, 2016

We are at the start of a year of danger for environmental policy. 2015 saw many accomplishments in environmental law: the Administration issued the “waters of the United States” and Clean Power Plan regulations, a Supreme Court ruling in favor of EPA’s cross-state air pollution rule, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Much of this progress is … Continue reading »

Heat and happiness

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | January 8, 2016

One of the reasons we think we should take action about climate change is that the costs of doing something about the problem are lower than the stream of future damages if we fail to act. Figuring out what damages from climate change will be 100 or more years into the future is difficult. It … 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 »

We are entering a new era of migration – and not just for people

David Ackerly, professor, integrative biology | October 22, 2015

By Jessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota, and David Ackerly, UC Berkeley The world is watching as refugees flood into a Europe unprepared for the new arrivals. Conflict and social unrest due in part to climate stress – including induced food shortages and social conflict – have prompted migrants to search for new homes and new … Continue reading »

Climate change and the future of fire policy

Eric Biber, professor of law | October 5, 2015

It has been a brutal fire season here in California. It’s been brutal in part because of a historically bad drought. But unfortunately, the end of the drought (when it comes) will not be the end of our fire problems. Those fire problems are the result of long-term, human-caused trends that will only continue: climate … Continue reading »

How to prevent gentrification and displacement in the fight against climate change

Miriam Zuk, director, Urban Displacement Project | September 29, 2015

Where you live makes a big difference in your access to public transit, and to opportunities. Right now, all over the state, we’re seeing displacement and gentrification; lower-income people are being pushed out of their neighborhoods and away from that access. Though this is particularly salient in the San Francisco Bay Area market, it can … Continue reading »

Why the Pope is wrong on markets

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | August 17, 2015

On a recent speaking engagement in Germany I ran into Prof. John Schellnhuber, who was on his way to the Vatican to present Pope Francis’ major coming out document on climate change. After I got over feeling oh so cool for being one degree of Kevin Bacon removed from one of the most powerful figures … 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 »

Free trade for green trade: To support clean energy, open up trade in green technology

Jonas Meckling, assistant professor, energy and environmental policy | August 10, 2015

By Jonas Meckling and Llewelyn Hughes In the run-up to the Paris talks at the end of the year, governments are preparing their strategies to negotiate national emissions reduction targets. But elsewhere, a different battle is unfolding as firms and governments compete to try to capture the benefits of the rise of the new green … Continue reading »

Jeb, the Pope and climate change

Dan Farber, professor of law | June 10, 2015

Jeb Bush’s environmental views seem to be evolving. In a recent speech at Liberty University, he had this to say about environmental protection: “America’s environmental debates, likewise, can be too coldly economical, too sterile of life . . . Christians see in nature and all God’s creatures designs grander than any of man’s own devising, the … 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 »

Climate fatigue

Dan Farber, professor of law | April 28, 2015

I gather that people are tired of hearing about climate change. I’m tired of hearing about climate change, too. Sadly, Nature just doesn’t care that much about entertaining us. It’s going to be climate change this year, climate change next year, climate change the year after that . . . But don’t worry, it won’t … Continue reading »

Carbon vouchers: A small-government approach to climate action

Dan Farber, professor of law | April 22, 2015

What I’m going to sketch here isn’t a zero government approach. But the government’s role is very limited: federal agencies don’t do any enforcement and the government doesn’t touch any revenue from the scheme. So this approach deals with the concern that a carbon tax or something similar would either expand EPA’s ability to abuse … Continue reading »

Climate-change gag rules and the First Amendment

Dan Farber, professor of law | April 17, 2015

There have been recent reports about state agencies that forbid employees from discussing climate change. Since this is obviously a restriction on speech, it’s natural to wonder what the First Amendment has to say on the subject. The answer depends in large part on the kind of employee speech at issue. Let’s being with a ban … Continue reading »

The Brazilian deforestation puzzle

Dan Farber, professor of law | April 10, 2015

Brazil’s rate of deforestation went down dramatically over the last ten years. It’s not completely clear why that’s happened. The trend now seems to be reversing (or at least encountering an upward blip). But it’s not clear why that’s happening either. I wish I had a clear explanation to give you. A big part of … Continue reading »

For energy (and water) conservation, moral suasion is no substitute for getting the prices right

Meredith Fowlie, Associate Professor and Class of 1935 Distinguished Chair in Energy | April 7, 2015

My office light switch recently acquired a little sticker that politely reminds me to turn it off when I leave. And over the past year, an edgy Lawn dude  and an amicable  Bear  have been urging Californians to cut back on water use in order to meet our drought-stricken state’s water restrictions (which have to … Continue reading »

News from a warming world

Dan Farber, professor of law | April 2, 2015

There’s been a lot of interesting environmental news recently, much of which seems to have gotten little notice. The topics range from U.S. wind power (growing) to U.S. coal power and Arctic sea ice (both shrinking), with a bit of Ted Cruz to spice things up. Here’s the round-up: Out with coal, in with wind. The Energy … Continue reading »