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Students showcasing research posters at the 2015 GCEP Symposium

Energy Seminar: Danny Cullenward & Michael Wara, A New Era of Climate Policy in California

April 3, 2017 - 4:30pm to 5:20pm
NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center

Free and open to all.

Event Sponsor: 
Precourt Institute for Energy
Contact Email:

Danny Cullenward, Research Associate, Carnegie Institution for Science; Lecturer, Stanford School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences

Michael Wara, Associate Professor of Law; Justin M. Roach Jr. Faculty Scholar

Talk abstract:

In 2016, as California began its second decade of comprehensive climate mitigation policy, state leaders enacted one of the world’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets—aiming to cut emissions 40% between 2020 and 2030. Achieving this goal will be a tremendous challenge. The speakers will review progress made toward a more modest target for 2020, evaluating the contribution of California’s complex web of energy and climate policies in the wake of the Great Recession. In particular, they will focus on the state’s flagship policy, a comprehensive cap-and-trade program that has suffered from persistent weak demand and low carbon prices. As the Air Resources Board develops plans to reach the state’s ambitious 2030 target, the role of carbon pricing policy remains uncertain and, we have argued, requires legislative re-authorization. Meanwhile, the Air Resources Board emphasizes the role of non-price policies in its planning process, but the viability of key regulations is now in question as the Trump Administration considers revoking or modifying several of the legal authorities California has relied on to achieve emission reductions. Reflecting on these challenges, the talk will outline strategies for making progress on effective climate mitigation policy in California and identify lessons for other jurisdictions to consider on the road to deep decarbonization.

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