ARB Research Seminar

This page updated June 19, 2013

Science and Policy for Deep Cuts in Carbon Emission

Daniel M. Kammen, Ph.D., Class of 1935 Distinguished Chair in Energy, Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

January 29, 2008
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA



Deep cuts in carbon emissions will be needed broadly across the economy in both intermediate (e.g for CA under AB32, by ~ 25% by 2025) and longer-term (e.g. for CA under S-3-05 by 80% by 2050) timescales. To accomplish this a dramatic increase in both the rate of decarbonization, and the total stock of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

A range of technologies, and market or command-and-control based strategies, have been proposed to move California, as well as a number of other states and nations globally that have embraced deep cuts in GHG emissions. To initiate and sustain a pathway to lower emissions, both a roadmapping process as well as a focus on new technological and management mechanisms.

The history of programs that have increased significantly the investment in energy research programs provides one guide to the potential effectiveness of carbon reduction strategies. We examine scenarios for significant increases in energy innovation to examine the likely impact of GHG reduction goals that would come from research and development (R&D) intensive strategies. A range of specific technology breakthroughs have been proposed or posited as key to regional carbon reduction plans. We examine the progress to date, and potential, for innovation in solar energy systems (both photovoltaics and solar thermal), the deployment potential for wind energy systems (both with and without localized energy storage), and both biofuel development and deployment strategies and those focused around plug-in hybrid vehicles.

We use these data to examine the potential for a low-cost, low-carbon roadmap for California to meet near and long-term sustainability targets.

While a continuation of business as usual energy choices will result in socially, politically, and environmentally costly and destructive climate change, the motivation to invest in solutions to climate change can be simply that a green economy can also be exceedingly vibrant. In fact, an economy built around a suite of low-carbon technologies can be resistant to price shocks as well as secure against supply disruptions as well as inclusive of diverse socioeconomic groups. A new wave of job growth - both 'high technology' and ones that transform 'blue collar labor' into 'green collar' opportunities (Kammen, Kapadia, and Fripp, 2004; Kammen, 2007). The combination of economic competitiveness and environmental protection is a clear result from a systematic approach to investing in climate solutions.

Clean energy systems and energy efficiency investments also contribute directly to energy security and to domestic job growth versus off-shore migration. Renewable energy systems are more often local than imported due to the weight of biomass resources and the need for operations and maintenance.

A growing number of state, regional, and national economies are assuming leadership positions for a clean, low carbon, energy economy. These 'early actors' are reaping the economic benefits of their actions. Among the global leaders are Brazil, Denmark, Iceland Germany, Japan, Spain, all of which have made significant commitments to a green economy, and all are seeing job growth and rapidly expanding export opportunities. In the United States several states have embarked on significant climate protection efforts, and half of U. S. states have taken the vital step of adopting minimum levels of renewable energy requirements.

Speaker Biography

Daniel M. Kammen, Ph.D., is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. Kammen is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). Dr. Kammen is also the Co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment (

Through RAEL ( Kammen works with faculty colleagues, postdoctoral fellows, and roughly 20 doctoral students on a wide range of science, engineering, economics and policy projects related to energy science, engineering and the environment. The focus of Dr. Kammen's work is on the science and policy of clean, renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, the role of energy in national energy policy, international climate debates, and the use and impacts of energy sources and technologies on development, particularly in Africa and Latin America. His work is interdisciplinary, and extends from theoretical studies to highly practical field projects and the design and development of specific policy initiatives and pieces of legislation. Dr. Kammen has published five books, over 200 journal articles and 30 research reports.

Dr. Daniel Kammen serves on the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, on the Technical Review Board of the Global Environment Facility is on the advisory board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and was a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In 1998 was elected a Permanent Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. In February, 2007, Kammen received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Commonwealth Club of California.

Dr. Kammen's website:, documents his teaching, partnerships with developed and developing country partners, and media and educational efforts.

In February 2007 Dr. Kammen received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Commonwealth Club of California. This is the 19th time the Club has honored individuals who have made significant and enduring contributions to the Bay Area and California community, and who embody the principles and values of The Commonwealth Club. Website:

From March 5 - 7, 2007 Kammen delivered the Martin Lectures at Oxford University, with Princeton University Press releasing the lectures as a book in late 2007. Website:

Dr. Kammen received his undergraduate (Cornell A., B. '84) and graduate (Harvard M. A. '86, Ph.D. '88) training is in physics After postdoctoral work at Caltech and Harvard, Kammen was professor and Chair of the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 1993 - 1998. He then moved to UC Berkeley.

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