SDG 13

With rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is occurring at rates much faster than anticipated and its effects are clearly felt worldwide. While there are positive steps in terms of the climate finance flows and the development of nationally determined contributions, far more ambitious plans and accelerated action are needed on mitigation and adaptation. Access to finance and strengthened capacities need to be scaled up at a much faster rate, particularly for least developed countries and small island developing States.

Recent research at the School of Global Policy and Strategy

The Big Pixel Initiative is developing geospatial capacity to address our world’s greatest challenges at scale. Founded in partnership at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute and School of Global Policy and Strategy, we have partnered with the DigitalGlobe Foundation to grow a living, learning laboratory related to everything spatial, to investigate and design best practices in geospatial data visualization, user experience interfaces, and design techniques for scientific discovery and decision-making. Resources The Big Pixel Team has partnered with the…
Technological transformations open new opportunities and disrupt old patterns. Founded in 2006, Center on Global Transformation (CGT) provides a new framework for vanguard exploration of topics critical to analyzing and shaping the forces of economic change in a deeply interconnected, thoroughly dynamic world. CGT and its Pacific Leadership Fellows program focus on academic inquiry and policy analysis of international issues. CGT’s core mission is to: Foster and disseminate research that addresses global economic and technology transformation Develop and maintain a network…
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…
The Policy Design and Evaluation Lab (PDEL) is an international focal point for rigorous empirical research on the interplay of public policy, technology, and economic development. PDEL combines advanced social science methodology with the power of information technology to design policies and programs that alleviate poverty; promote health, welfare, and security; and enhance accountability. Why PDEL? UC San Diego and its scholars are at the leading edge of a movement to develop a new class of solutions to some of…
In order to achieve zero carbon emissions, the US will need a plan. SDGPI is part of a coalition of the nation’s leading experts who have laid out the path forward to reach zero carbon emissions in the United States by 2050.   Watch the Launch Read the Report Climate change represents a profound policy challenge to America and the world – requiring a response at a sweeping scale and with unprecedented speed centered on remaking the energy foundations of…
The FABLE Consortium has released its 2020 Report on Pathways to Sustainable Land-Use and Food Systems. Explore the latest trends in food and land-use with the new ‘Scenathon’ dashboard. Explore Scenathon Read Report Overview FABLE is a global consortium with teams of scientists in 20 countries modeling land use to 2050 in an integrated framework. Land use and land use change accounts for 23% of GHG emissions globally, biodiversity loss is accelerating at alarming rates, and the food system is…

RESEARCH

David Victor

Traditionally, analysis of the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emissions has assumed that governments would implement idealized, optimal policies such as uniform economy-wide carbon taxes. Yet actual policies in the real world, especially in large federal governments, are often highly heterogeneous and vary in political support and administrative capabilities within a country. While the benefits of heterogeneous action have been discussed widely for experimentation and leadership, little is known about its costs. Focusing on the United States, we represent plausible variation (by more than a factor of 3) in the stringency of state-led climate policy in a process-based integrated assessment model (GCAM-USA).

RESEARCH

Michael Davidson

We trace the increasing scope and stringency of China’s high-level climate pledges, and the primary institutions to meet them — mostly, planning targets and command & control. These efforts are not going to be abandoned with neutrality but will be modified with new policies. In particular, market reforms — thru new ETS and broader but no less significant energy sector reforms — hold appeal for their potential to reduce costs. Though, barriers remain: interactions and incomplete complementary reforms. We conclude that policies should create powerful beneficiaries that provide durable support for further ratcheting–something that markets alone will probably not do. Instead, once there is broad participation, we may see greater market roles in sustaining low-cost mitigation.

RESEARCH

Jennifer Burney

Remotely sensed land surface temperature measurements are used to explore the distribution of the United States’ urban heating burden. Drawing on urban temperature anomalies during extreme summer surface temperature events from all 1,056 US counties with more than 10 developed census tracts, we find that the poorest tracts (and those with lowest average education levels) within a county are significantly hotter than the richest (and more educated) neighborhoods for 76% of these counties (54% for education); we also find that neighborhoods with higher Black, Hispanic, and Asian population shares are hotter than the more White, non-Hispanic areas in each county.

RESEARCH

David Victor and Ryan Hanna

Stopping climate change requires revolutionary transformations in industry and agriculture. Ahead of several major climate meetings this year, policymakers struggling to measure progress on climate change should focus less on global emissions, which will be slow to change, and more on technological advances in pioneering niches.

RESEARCH

Jennifer Burney and Katharine Ricke

Aerosol emissions occur in tandem with greenhouse gases (GHGs) and vary by type of economic activity, so concurrent changes to aerosols from GHG reduction depend on what activities are reduced. We show that, by 2030, the different policy priorities can differ by more than a million premature deaths annually and could cause a similar amount of cooling as from the reduced GHGs, indicating that there are substantial tradeoffs between global climate and local air quality objectives. We conclude that deliberate consideration of particle emissions as part of climate policy could provide additional benefits, especially in less industrialized regions.

RESEARCH

Jennifer Burney

Historically, human uses of land have transformed and fragmented ecosystems, degraded biodiversity, disrupted carbon and nitrogen cycles, and added prodigious quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere. However, in contrast to fossil-fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, trends and drivers of GHG emissions from land management and land-use change (together referred to as ‘land-use emissions’) have not been as comprehensively and systematically assessed. Even where land-use change emissions are negligible or negative, total per capita CO2-equivalent land-use emissions remain near 0.5 tonnes per capita, suggesting the current frontier of mitigation efforts. Our results are consistent with existing knowledge—for example, on the role of population and economic growth and dietary choice—but provide additional insight into regional and sectoral trends.

2021

RESEARCH

David Victor

For decades, the world’s governments have struggled to move from talk to action on climate. Many now hope that growing public concern will lead to greater policy ambition, but the most widely promoted strategy to address the climate crisis – the use of market-based programs – hasn’t been working and isn’t ready to scale. This book shows how the politics of creating and maintaining market-based policies render them ineffective nearly everywhere they have been applied.

RESEARCH

David Victor and Gordon McCord

The Zero Carbon Action Plan (ZCAP) will serve as a roadmap for the U.S. based on the latest modeling, research and understanding of decarbonizing six key sectors (power, transport, industry, buildings, food and land use, and materials) supported by technical pathways to zero carbon by 2050, as well as supporting policy recommendations. The ZCAP was designed by a cohort of nearly 100 researchers and 19 Chairs who make up the Zero Carbon Consortium, who are experts in their fields of climate change policy; clean energy pathways modeling; industrial policy high-employment green economies; legislative and regulatory policy; electricity (power) generation; transportation; industry; buildings; sustainable land-use; and sustainable materials management.

RESEARCH

David Victor

The COVID-19 crisis has precipitated the largest decline of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on record. Those massive current declines are likely temporary, but they raise important questions about the trajectory of emissions as the economic crisis abates and economic activity resumes. Given the increasing importance of “bottom-up” action on climate, this analysis inventories the various GHG reduction pledges and commitments of the 100 largest U.S. cities; estimates the emissions savings that could result from those pledges; and then evaluates whether U.S. cities appear to be on track to meet their pledges. In this fashion, the information addresses the current array of results on the ground in order to inform ongoing discussions of the potential and limits of “bottom-up”

2020

RESEARCH

David Victor

The most precipitous contraction of the global economy in a century has seen carbon emissions plummet. By the end of this year, emissions are likely to be 8% less than in 2019 — the largest annual percentage drop since the Second World War. To avert a global recession, governments are injecting trillions of dollars into stimulating their economies. The International Monetary Fund anticipates economic recovery by the end of this year, provided there are no further large outbreaks of disease. If nothing else changes, then emissions will tick upwards once more, as they have after each recession since the first oil shock of the early 1970s. The analysis we present here examines past recoveries to find lessons that help

2020

RESEARCH

Jennifer Burney

Estimation of pollution impacts on health is critical for guiding policy to improve health outcomes. Estimation is challenging, however, because economic activity can worsen pollution but also independently improve health outcomes, confounding pollution–health estimates. We show that future climate change driven changes in Saharan rainfall—a control on dust export—could generate large child health impacts, and that seemingly exotic proposals to pump and apply groundwater to Saharan locations to reduce dust emission could be cost competitive with leading child health interventions.

RESEARCH

David Victor

The economic free fall accompanying the coronavirus pandemic has, by some measures, made the world a cleaner place. Air pollution in Chinese, Indian, and U.S. cities is way down. In China alone, lower air pollution may have saved more lives than the virus has killed so far. In New York City, some pollutants dropped by more than half in just a week. Global emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief long-term cause of climate warming, are on track to drop by eight percent this year. All that cleaner air has come at a huge, unacceptable cost. But could the pandemic lay the foundation for more serious action to protect the environment—including on the greatest of all environmental problems, climate change?

RESEARCH

Joshua Graff Zivin

This paper examines the effect of stringent environmental regulations on firms’ environmental practices, economic performance, and environmental innovation. Reducing COD levels by 10% relative to 2005 levels is an aim of the Chinese 11th Five-Year Plan. We find that more stringent environmental regulations faced by firms are positively associated with a greater probability of reducing COD emissions; also, there exists an evident heterogeneous effect across industries with different pollution intensities. Stricter environmental regulations also account for the sharp decline in firms’ profits, capital, and labor. We find that firms rely more on recycling and abatement investment than on innovations when meeting environmental requirements.

RESEARCH

Craig McIntosh

We play a series of incentivised laboratory games with risk-exposed co-operativised Guatemalan coffee farmers to understand the demand for index-based rainfall insurance. We estimate an explicit utility curve for every player and hence predict expected utility demand under counterfactual scenarios. Using these estimates, we provide a precise money-metric decomposition of the extent to which the low observed demand for index insurance is driven by expected utility theory, or by behavioural issues arising from a prospect-style utility structure. Our results suggest that consumers value probabilistic insurance using a prospect-style utility function that is concave both in probabilities and in income.

RESEARCH

David Victor

Artificial intelligence helps make markets more efficient and easier for analysts and market participants to understand highly complex phenomena—from the behavior of electrical power grids to climate change. There is no reason to believe that these more efficient markets, on their own, will tackle the carbon problem. Instead, they will require overt policy signals.

2019

RESEARCH

Katharine Ricke

This paper estimates the country-level contributions to the social cost of carbon (SCC) using recent climate model projections, empirical climate-driven economic damage estimations and socio-economic projections. Central specifications show high global SCC values (median, US$417 per tonne of CO2 (tCO2); 66% confidence intervals, US$177–805 per tCO2) and a country-level SCC that is unequally distributed.

RESEARCH

David Victor

One of the most significant impacts of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been the establishment of a participatory process for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). We analyse the case of Brazil, the country whose land-use emissions from deforestation and forest degradation have declined the most. Through semi-structured interviews with 29 country policy experts – analysed in full text around 7 categories of activities that existing literature identifies as central elements of an effective governance system – we find weak links between the international REDD+ system and what actually happens on the ground inside Brazil.

RESEARCH

David Victor

In many jurisdictions, policy-makers are seeking to decentralize the electric power system while also promoting deep reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). We examine the potential roles for residential energy storage (RES), a technology thought to be at the epicenter of these twin revolutions. When operated with the goal of minimizing emissions, RES can reduce average household emissions by 2.2–6.4%. While RES is costly compared with many other emission-control measures, tariffs that internalize the social cost of carbon would reduce emissions by 0.1–5.9% relative to cost-minimizing operation. Policy-makers should be careful about assuming that decentralization will clean the electric power system, especially if it proceeds without carbon-mindful tariff reforms.

RESEARCH

Joshua Graff Zivin

Climate variability and change are issues of growing public health importance. We analyzed hospitalization data for three unique climate regions of San Diego County alongside temperature data spanning 14 years. Within the milder coastal region where access to AC is not prevalent, heat-related morbidity was higher in the subset of zip codes where AC saturation is lowest. We detected a 14.6% increase in hospitalizations during hot weather in comparison to colder days in coastal locations where AC is less common, while no significant impact was observed in areas with higher AC saturation. Disparities in AC ownership were associated with income, race/ethnicity, and homeownership. Given that heat waves are expected to increase with climate change, understanding health impacts of heat

2018