Deep Decarbonization Initiative

The mission of the UC San Diego Deep Decarbonization Initiative is to help guide a transition in the global economy toward net-zero carbon emissions. Our aim is to help real societies link the best science and technology with politically realistic economic strategies for putting new energy systems into place on the scale required to make a difference in global carbon emissions while meeting the energy needs of all of humanity.

To accomplish this goal, we pursue research from the combined perspectives of the social sciences, engineering and the physical and biological sciences. We organize research across academic disciplines that engage energy industry officials, elected officials and other policy makers.

What’s unique about the effort is how we are embedding the study of modern societies — economics, politics and social organization — within technical research that will engage the whole of UC San Diego. We take the problems of climate change and deep decarbonization very seriously. But we also take the political and economic situations around the world very seriously. Getting to zero won’t happen just by telling people what is feasible; policies must be designed and analyzed with an eye to how the promise of new ideas can be implemented in the reality of actual governments and economies.

Become a Partner

“Sometimes when you’re working on a new technology, you need to purposefully ignore what’s possible in the near-term, commercially. Ultimately, someone has to see a strategy for deploying capital. And the numbers are staggering. We’re taking about changing investment patterns by trillions of dollars a year in the energy system, over many decades. That has to be done with a sense of reality.”

The Deep Decarbonization Initiative seeks to identify techniques and approaches that work in the real world, and understand to what degree they can help meet human energy needs while reducing net carbon emissions. Making these solutions a reality will require knowing how energy systems work in many different regions. While the general technological opportunities for decarbonization are global, the real world practical details vary enormously.

Our partners will be vital to this process. Crucial to the initiative is the relationship to business, because we need to understand not only the fundamental ideas that could really be transformative, but the reality of getting actual companies to invest in testing and deployment. That’s how the world can move from talking about decarbonization to doing it.