Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. It has and will continue to threaten food security, human health, water availability, and economic activity around the world. Such an unprecedented problem requires innovative new solutions, through research and policy engagement. emLab’s Climate & Energy program approaches climate change using big data and cutting-edge empirical techniques to both understand the consequences of climate change and to design smarter and more equitable climate policies.
Climate & Energy
Equity and climate justice
Climate change could exacerbate existing inequities, but the need for urgent climate action provides an opportunity to implement climate policies with built-in equity objectives that reverse existing disparities in pollution exposure, energy costs, and employment opportunities along economic, racial, gender, and other dimensions. Our projects aim to understand the distributional consequences of climate change impacts and policies, with the ultimate objective of designing equity-enhancing climate policies.
Carbon pricing - either through a tax or emissions trading - currently covers 20% of global carbon emissions, with new policies arising each year. While such policies have long been textbook examples of cost-effective environmental policies, less is known about how they perform in practice. In addition to studying the cost-effectiveness of these policies, we also examine their equity consequences and various political economy considerations around their adoption.
Clean energy transitions
Inducing a major transition to clean energy is a prerequisite for any effective climate policy. But such transitions require large-scale shifts in innovation, how and where energy is produced, and where labor market opportunities reside. Effective climate policies must not only reduce carbon emissions, but must also minimize accompanying economic and social disruptions. Our work in this area focuses on the equity and labor market consequences of clean energy transitions.
Climate change health impacts
The World Health Organization calls climate change the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century. Increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns raise the risk of heat-related mortality, change spatial patterns of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue, and pose an array of threats to infant and child health. We use climate science and economics to quantify how changing environmental conditions associated with climate change impact human health across the globe, with particular focus on identifying the populations that are most at risk.
The social cost of carbon
How are the benefits of new climate policies weighed against the costs of their implementation? Climate economists and scientists have created a value called the social cost of carbon in order to better understand the cost/benefit relationship of climate policies and regulations.
Find out how the social cost of carbon is calculated, how it should, perhaps, be calculated, and why the effort to quantify this value is necessary despite its imperfections with the help of two climate experts, Dr. Tamma Carleton of UC Santa Barbara and Dr. Bob Kopp of Rutgers University.
Do health disparities narrow with pollution disparities? Trends from California
Hernandez-Cortes & Meng 2023, AEA Papers and Proceedings
Equitable low-carbon transition pathways for California’s oil extraction
Deshmukh et al. 2023, Nature Energy
Toward a low-carbon transition in India
Deshmukh and Chatterjee 2022, Science Magazine
emLab Blog: Our 2 Cents
In the News
Study on oilfield buffers IDs surprising tradeoffs
The Bakersfield Californian
Connecting the dots with mobile money: How digital finance can foster a clean energy transition in Ghana
BRAC Institute of Governance and Development