Sustainable CO2 Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation

Economies and lives are being affected by the impacts of climate change.  Greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels and if no action is taken temperatures will continue to rise. Measures are needed to reduce emissions and accelerate the use of renewable energy.

The economics and efficiency impacts of carbon taxes and cap-and-trade programs are relatively well-known. The challenge is in implementing them well, taking into consideration the distributional impacts on vulnerable communities and understanding the spatial distribution of local air pollution which can affect health outcomes. How to use predictions from downscaled global climate models and climate predictions to develop sound strategies and public policy for climate adaptation in cities is equally challenging.

To fill this gap, the Center for Sustainability Solutions translates and disseminates the results of its applied research, and facilitates public policy dialogues, giving a broad spectrum of stakeholders and opportunity to brainstorm and converge on practical solutions to these urban environmental challenges. Lessons learned here in Los Angeles then can be applied elsewhere, recognizing that the political processes and institutions may differ. Similarly, knowledge developed through our Sustainability Solutions Regional Hubs, can be transferred back to Los Angeles.

To learn more about the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action click here.

Sample Papers

The Market Impact and the Cost of Environmental Policy: Evidence from the Swedish Green Car Rebate

By Cristian Huse, Claudio Lucinda

The Economic Journal


We quantify the effects of the Swedish Green Car Rebate (GCR), a programme to reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions in the automobile industry. We find the GCR increases the market shares of ‘green cars’ and its cost to be $109/ton CO22 saved, thus five times the price of an emission permit. Since the main green cars in Sweden are flexible‐fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can switch between petrol (gasoline) and ethanol, we also account for fuel choice, which increases the cost of the programme. Finally, we show that consumers would have purchased FFVs regardless of the rebate provided by the GCR.

A Governing Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in the Built Environment

By Daniel Mazmanian, John Jurewitz, Hal Nelson

Ecology and Society


Developing an approach to governing adaptation to climate change is severely hampered by the dictatorship of the present when the needs of future generations are inadequately represented in current policy making. We position this problem as a function of the attributes of adaptation policy making, including deep uncertainty and nonstationarity, where past observations are not reliable predictors of future outcomes. Our research links organizational decision-making attributes with adaptation decision making and identifies cases in which adaptation actions cause spillovers, free riding, and distributional impacts. We develop a governing framework for adaptation that we believe will enable policy, planning, and major long-term development decisions to be made appropriately at all levels of government in the face of the deep uncertainty and nonstationarity caused by climate change. Our framework requires that approval of projects with an expected life span of 30 years or more in the built environment include minimum building standards that integrate forecasted climate change impacts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) intermediate scenario. The intermediate IPCC scenario must be downscaled to include local or regional temperature, water availability, sea level rise, susceptibility to forest fires, and human habitation impacts to minimize climate-change risks to the built environment. The minimum standard is systematically updated every six years to facilitate learning by formal and informal organizations. As a minimum standard, the governance framework allows jurisdictions to take stronger actions to increase their climate resilience and thus maintain system flexibility.

The Distribution of Environmental Damages

By Solomon Hsiang, Paulina Oliva, Reed Walker

Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Volume 13, Issue 1


Most regulations designed to reduce environmental externalities impose costs on individuals and firms. A large and growing literature examines whether these costs are disproportionately borne by different sectors of the economy and/or across different groups of individuals. However, much less is known about how the environmental benefits created by these policies are distributed, which mirror the differences in environmental damages associated with existing environmental externalities. We review this burgeoning literature and develop a simple general framework for empirical analysis. We apply this framework to findings concerning the distributional impacts of environmental damages from air pollution, deforestation, and climate change and highlight priorities for future research. A recurring challenge to understanding the distributional effects of environmental damages is distinguishing between cases in which populations are exposed to different levels or changes in an environmental good and those in which an incremental change in the environment may have very different implications for some populations. In the latter case, it is often difficult to empirically identify the underlying sources of heterogeneity in marginal damages because damages may stem from nonlinear and/or heterogeneous damage functions. Nevertheless, understanding the determinants of heterogeneity in environmental benefits and damages is crucial for welfare analysis and policy design.

Plausibility Reappraisals and Shifts in Middle School Students’ Climate Change Conceptions

By Doug Lombardi, Gale M.Sinatra, E. Michael Nussbaum

Learning and Instruction, 27


Plausibility is a central but under-examined topic in conceptual change research. Climate change is an important socio-scientific topic; however, many view human-induced climate change as implausible. When learning about climate change, students need to make plausibility judgments but they may not be sufficiently critical or reflective. The purpose of this study was to examine how students’ plausibility judgments and knowledge about human-induced climate change transform during instruction promoting critical evaluation. The results revealed that treatment group participants who engaged in critical evaluation experienced a significant shift in their plausibility judgments toward the scientifically accepted model of human-induced climate change. This shift was accompanied by significant conceptual change postinstruction that was maintained after a six-month delay. A comparison group who experienced a climate change activity that is part of their normal curriculum did not experience statistically significant changes.

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