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Explaining the key scientific ideas, technologies, and policies relevant to the global climate crisis.

Recent Podcast
Podcast Episode 1.57

How to meet electricity demand while greening the grid

with EJ Baik, Stanford University

Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Princeton University, and the IPCC have all published proposed climate mitigation pathways: strategies for economically reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century for California, the U.S., and the world, respectively. And they are not alone (for example: here and here and here). Any given pathway to net-zero emissions offers some combination of efficiency improvements, expansion of renewable energy sources, and some amount of so-called “negative emissions,” using technologies and natural processes that capture and store carbon. But what determines the ratio of these three decarbonization methods? What determines which particular ratio will produce the lowest-cost and most feasible pathway for society?

Climate Now sat down with Dr. EJ Baik, to discuss her research on the least-cost pathway for decarbonizing California’s electrical grid by 2045. EJ explains how major decarbonization pathways are modeled, the assumptions behind those models, and why sometimes the most economical way to reach net-zero is not what you’d expect.

Featuring:

EJ Baik
Recent PhD Graduate, Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University

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EJ Baik

Recent PhD Graduate, Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University

Dr. EJ Baik is a recent PhD graduate in the department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University. Her research focuses on decarbonization of large-scale energy systems, and most recently she worked to model pathways to achieve a net-zero energy grid in California by 2045. She holds a PhD degree from Stanford University and a Bachelors in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Princeton University.

Date: 05.23.2022 Running Time: 34 min
Recent Podcast
Podcast Episode 1.56

Will the clean energy transition be cheaper than we thought?

with Dr. Doyne Farmer

The recent working paper by Rupert Way, Matthew Ives, Penny Mealy, and Doyne Farmer, Empirically grounded technology forecasts and the energy transition, suggests that the high estimates of the expense to transition to renewable energy have been inflated, and that it may in fact be cheaper to transition to renewables than to stay on fossil fuels, regardless of the costs of the changing climate. Using probabilistic cost forecasting methods, the authors of the paper project that because of the exponentially decreasing cost curve of renewables like wind and solar, fossil fuels will become nearly obsolete in just 25 years.

Climate Now spoke with co-author of the paper, Dr. Doyne Farmer, to better understand their model and predictions.

Featuring:

Doyne Farmer
Director of the Complexity Economics programme at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School

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Doyne Farmer

Director of the Complexity Economics programme at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School

Dr. Farmer is the Director of the Complexity Economics programme at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, Baillie Gifford Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. While a graduate student in the 1970s, Dr. Farmer built the first wearable digital computer, which was successfully used to predict the game of roulette. 

Date: 05.17.2022 Running Time: 28 min
Recent Episode
Video Episode 4.1

Green Transportation: The Power of Electric Vehicles

Electric vs Gas-Powered Emissions

Adopting green transportation and transitioning to a 100% electric fleet requires a momentous cultural, technological, and infrastructure overhaul of the entire global automotive industry. If we are going to undertake such a task, we have to know that it will bring significant results in reducing emissions. So what is the real impact of going electric?

As part of our decarbonizing transportation series, we sat down and did the math. We looked at the net carbon dioxide emissions of an EV over its lifecycle versus lifecycle emissions of a gas-powered vehicle to find out just what the climate benefit of going electric could be.

Featuring:

Andy Stevenson
EV Battery Materials Advisor and Investor

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Andy Stevenson

EV Battery Materials Advisor and Investor

Andy Stevenson is an electric vehicle battery materials advisor and investor. Previously, Stevenson was Chief Financial Officer of Redwood Materials, a battery recycling company, and a Special Projects Associate at Tesla.

Nathan Ratledge
TomKat Center Graduate Fellow, Stanford University

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Nathan Ratledge

TomKat Center Graduate Fellow, Stanford University

Nathan is the founder of the environmental consulting company Apogee Economics and Policy, and the TomKat Center Graduate Fellow in Sustainable Energy at Stanford University. His research is focused on the economics and financing of clean energy in the developing world.

Date: 03.01.2022 Read Transcript Running Time: 15 min
Recent Podcast
Podcast Episode 1.55

Diluting dependence on Russian oil: How renewable energy can defund a war

with Amory Lovins, Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus at RMI

Among the top importers of Russian oil are the EU, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and France. The EU accounted for 71% of oil imports from Russia 2 months after the war in Ukraine began. But cutting off oil and gas imports from Russia completely can pose great challenges. The EU is attempting to wean off of Russian oil dependence in response to the invasion of Ukraine by hastening renewable energy adoption. 

The 1970’s oil crises led to a flattening of the exponential demand growth for oil globally. It never recovered thanks to improvements in efficiency. What lessons can we learn from the past as we face the current oil and gas crisis brought on by Putin’s war? Climate Now spoke with Amory Lovins, co-author of a recent RMI article assessing the geopolitical dynamics driving a pivot away from fossil fuels.

Featuring:

Amory Lovins
Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus, RMI

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Amory Lovins

Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus, RMI

Amory has been an energy advisor to major firms and governments in 70+ countries for over 45 years; is the author of 31 books and more than 700 papers; and is an integrative designer of super-efficient buildings, factories, and vehicles. Time has named Amory one of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers. 

Date: 05.09.2022 Running Time: 29 min
Recent Podcast
Podcast Episode 1.53

Buried treasure: Unearthing the power of the soil carbon bank

with Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry, University of California, Merced

Soil – that mixture of degraded bedrock, decomposing organic matter, and microorganisms that nourishes the root systems of plants and trees – already holds twice as much CO2 as the earth’s atmosphere and vegetation, combined. And by changing how we manage our soils, we can increase the rate of CO2 trapping from the atmosphere into that soil carbon bank, and in some cases simultaneously enhance the agricultural productivity of a region.

Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry and Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences at University of California, Merced, is a global leader in the carbon storage potential of soils. She sat down with Climate Now to explain why soils are so good at trapping carbon, how much they could hold, and what we can do to increase soil carbon storage.

Featuring:

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry, University of California, Merced

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Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry, University of California, Merced

Dr. Asefaw Berhe’s research lies at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology. She investigates how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate, and the dynamic two-way relationship between soil and human communities. She is the recipient of several awards and honors, including Fellow and Joanne Simpson Medal recipient from the American Geophysical Union; Fellow and Bromery Award recipient from the Geological Society of America; the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, and member of the inaugural class of the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s New Voices in Science, Engineering, and Medicine. She is also a TED speaker.

Date: 04.25.2022 Running Time: 29 min
Recent Podcast
Podcast Episode 1.51

Climate risk reporting: Why an SEC mandate makes sense

with Nir Kaissar, Bloomberg Opinion

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission wants to standardize climate risk reporting. What does that mean?

On March 21, 2022 the SEC released a proposal for a new rule: that publicly traded companies will have to provide disclosures about how the changing climate will affect their business, and how their business is affecting climate.

This move would formalize a reporting system for climate related-disclosures that investors are increasingly clamoring for. Climate Now sat down with Nir Kaissar, a market economics columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and portfolio manager, to understand what these proposed disclosure requirements entail, how they fit into the scope of the SEC’s mandate, and what the impact of their adoption will be for businesses, investors, policymakers and the public.

Featuring:

Nir Kaissar
Columnist, Bloomberg Opinion and Founder, Unison Advisors

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Nir Kaissar

Columnist, Bloomberg Opinion and Founder, Unison Advisors

Nir Kaissar is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist writing about markets and investing. He is also the founder of Unison Advisors, an asset management firm. He has worked as a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell and a consultant at Ernst & Young.

Date: 04.12.2022 Running Time: 27 min
Recent Episode
Video Episode 2.8

Wind Energy

In order to reach global net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, modeled pathways project that wind energy will need to be a primary source of electricity, accounting for 19-43% of global electricity production.

Today, though, wind produces only 6% of the world’s electricity.

So, what needs to happen to make this level of growth achievable? How can the design, location, and technology of wind turbines be optimized so that wind power reaches its full capacity and costs remain low?

Climate Now spoke with Dr. Simon Watson, Director of the Wind Energy Institute at TU Delft, to understand how we might scale wind power to the degree necessary to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Featuring:

Simon Watson
Director of the Delft University of Technology Wind Energy Institute

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Simon Watson

Director of the Delft University of Technology Wind Energy Institute

Simon Watson is a professor of wind energy and the Director of Delft University of Technology’s Wind Energy Institute.

Dr. Watson began his career in wind energy in 1990 and has worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Good Energy, and as a senior lecturer the Loughborough University’s Center for Renewable Energy Systems Technology.

Date: 01.27.2022 Read Transcript Running Time: 14 min