Synthesis and outreach

Rob Socolow will continue to work to inform national energy policy through participation in committees and conferences. He will be a participant in three sessions of the Aspen Institute this spring and summer. One of these is a “Solutions Summit” – with the modest goal of creating “the optimal actionable comprehensive Global GreenPrint for the new administration.” He expects also to give considerable time to the National Academies’ Committee on America’s Climate Choices, which lists the following as its organizing questions:

  • What short-term actions can be taken to respond effectively to climate change?
  • What promising long-term strategies, investments, and opportunities could be pursued to respond to climate change?
  • What are the major scientific and technological advances needed to better understand and respond effectively to climate change?
  • What are the major impediments to responding effectively to climate change, and what can be done to overcome these impediments?

Socolow will also be a speaker at the opening public event of this new study, a “summit” in late March 2009.


Stabilization Wedges

In response to the continued popularity of the wedges, Roberta Hotinski will continue to work with groups outside Princeton to facilitate workshops and help develop wedge-based materials for new audiences. In particular, she will continue to work with the NEED Project to revise and update the new climate curriculum in response to teacher input.


Individual emissions

Pacala and Socolow will continue to collaborate with Chakravarty and Massimo Tavoni to develop simplified tools relevant to the assignment of responsibility for carbon mitigation in the post-Kyoto (post-2012) era, with the goal of helping break the “north-south” impasse in international climate policy. A particular focus will be on high-emitter consumption profiles, for example the link between income and future increases in aviation emissions.


Direct Air Capture

The American Physical Society study of direct capture of CO2 from air will be conducted throughout 2009. Socolow, as its co-chair, has arranged for its key fact-finding meeting to be held on March 23-25, 2009, at Princeton, in order to provide cross-fertilization with Princeton researchers. The study will focus specifically on physical/chemical direct-capture technologies, excluding both biological methods for direct capture and issues of CO2 storage after capture (both of which are widely studied elsewhere). Since direct physical/chemical capture of very dilute atmospheric CO2 ( about 400 ppm) shares some similarities with the capture of moderately dilute CO2 (about 100,000 ppm) from the exhaust exiting coal and natural gas power plants and industrial facilities, this study will also include the evaluation of emerging “post-combustion capture” technologies. As such post-combustion capture technologies are currently under intense industrial development, their evaluation will provide valuable insight into potential technological barriers and cross-fertilization opportunities for direct capture. The study will also examine the moral hazard raised by direct capture, as even knowing that direct air capture might work could reduce the level of effort on other alternatives.


Environmental investment in China

The focus on China’s capacity to initiate its own climate change initiatives will continue. Yuan XU will complete his thesis on sulfur dioxide scrubbers and present his work in China at select audiences. Jie LI will also complete her thesis, which is an exploration of alternative rules for targets at the province level that would enable the achievement of a national carbon mitigation target – an allocation question analogous to that asked about countries meeting a global target in other CMI work. Indeed, income disparities across the provinces of China resemble those across the nations of the world. Both Xu and Li are graduate students in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) Program of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, directed by Oppenheimer.


Lessons from scientific assessments

Keynyn Brysse has already made contact with several potential interview subjects and is in the process of arranging interviews with key scientists in the spring of 2009. This first round of interviews will form the basis for a paper on negative learning as exemplified by the initial treatment of heterogeneous reactions in ozone depletion science, and also lay the groundwork for further exploration of this rich history.