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What unique features of climate change make action on it so difficult?
Can we rely on “peak oil” to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels?
What policies are most effective at reducing CO2 emissions?
History is full of policy makers from both the US and the world coming together to solve environmental problems. In the 1990s, the US successfully reduced both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, greatly reducing the ill effects of acid rain and smog pollution. These reductions largely came from cleaner power plants and vehicles and shifting away from high-sulfur coal and fuels. In 1987, the world came together to solve the hole in the ozone layer. These environmental successes relied on both regulating fossil fuels and international agreements---the very same requirements for making headway in solving climate change. Despite this, the US and the world have made little progress in solving the climate change dilemma.
What is different about climate change? Professor Knittel will discuss how the unique characteristics of climate change create a tendency toward inaction among policy makers. He will discuss how market forces in the fossil fuel industry suggest that the market alone is unlikely to lead to deep reductions in CO2 emissions, despite the progress we’ve seen in industries such as solar and electric vehicles. Deep reductions will require policy intervention.
What policies should be adopted to limit the damage from climate change? His presentation will discuss and compare policy options available at the national and state levels to reduce CO2, including a critical look at the suite of policies under California’s AB32 in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Christopher Knittel is the George P. Shultz Professor of Applied Economics in the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the Director of MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research which has served as the hub for social science research on energy and the environmental since the late 1970s. Professor Knittel also co-directs of The E2e Project, a research initiative between MIT, UC Berkeley, and the University of Chicago to undertake rigorous evaluation of energy efficiency investments. His research focuses on environmental economics, studying how firms and consumers respond to policies.
He joined the MIT faculty in 2011. He teaches Energy Economics & Policy to undergrads, MBA students, and graduate students from outside of the Sloan School of Management.
Professor Knittel received his BA in economics and political science from the California State University, Stanislaus in 1994, an MA in economics from UC Davis in 1996 and a PhD in economics from UC Berkeley in 1999.
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