Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, April 2017


Bending the Curve:  Accessing the Collective Wisdom of UC’s Best Researchers and Scholars

Inspired by the University of California’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2025, more than 50 UC researchers and scholars have collaborated to identify ten climate solutions that collectively can bend the curve of climate change. The new report, Bending the Curve , identifies 10 scalable solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability and presents pragmatic paths for achieving carbon neutrality and climate stability in California, the United States, and the world.  The Executive Summary was presented at the Paris climate talks, and the full report was recently published after peer review.

“Getting 50 UC faculty from multiple disciplines across every campus to collaborate on a report like this is pretty remarkable. The report accesses the collective wisdom and knowledge of those 50 faculty members, drawing on all of their previously published work to outline ten scalable solutions for achieving carbon neutrality and climate stability,” exclaimed Matt St. Clair, Sustainability Director, UC Office of the President.

“Bending the Curve is unique because it compliments the technology solutions with the social, cultural, educational, political, and economic solutions that all have to be part of the puzzle as well. Progress in combating climate change has stalled because there are unfortunately a lot of political, economic, social, and cultural issues tied up in there that technology alone won’t resolve,” continued St. Clair.

UCSF Contributes to High-Level Road Map
The goal of the report is to provide governments and large organizations a road map of high-level solutions and best practices. It is also being used to develop curriculum to teach climate solutions in higher education. UCSF’s Dr. Gina Solomon, Department of Medicine, contributed to Chapter 8, which focuses on closing the gap in climate justice and public health. ”This chapter examines the social dimensions of building carbon neutral societies, with an emphasis on producing behavioral shifts among both the most and the least advantaged populations,” explains the abstract to chapter 8.

The 10 Solutions
Bending the Curve presents 10 solutions, all of which the plan says can be implemented immediately and expanded rapidly — to clean our air and keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius and, at the same time, provide breathing room for the world to fully transition to carbon neutrality in the coming decades. The plan says global warming could be slowed dramatically by reducing greenhouse gases such as methane emissions by 50 percent and black carbon by 90 percent over the next 15 years. The wealthiest need to cut back dramatically, while green energy needs to be made more available to the poorest 3 billion people, the plan says.  Specifically, it introduces 10 “pragmatic, scalable” solutions.  Each is briefly summarized below.

  1. Target Short-Lived Climate Pollutants:  Bend the warming curve immediately by reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and sustainably by replacing current fossil-fueled energy systems with carbon neutral technologies.

  2. Foster a Culture of Climate Action:  Foster a global culture of climate action through coordinated public communication and education at local to global scales.

  3. Deepen Global Collaboration and Dialogue—Religious and Community Leaders are Vital Allies:  Deepen the global culture of climate collaboration by designing venues where stakeholders, community and religious leaders converge around concrete problems with researchers and scholars from all academic disciplines, with the overall goal of initiating collaborative actions to mitigate climate disruption.

  4. Immediately Scale-up Renewable Technologies:  Scale up subnational models of governance and collaboration around the world to embolden and energize national and international action. Use the California examples to help other state- and city-level jurisdictions become living laboratories for renewable technologies and for regulatory as well as market-based solutions. Build cross-sector collaborations among urban stakeholders, because creating sustainable cities is a key to global change.

  5. Adopt Market-based Instruments:  Adopt market-based instruments to create efficient incentives for businesses and individuals to reduce CO2 emissions. These can include cap and trade or carbon pricing and should employ mechanisms to contain costs.

  6. Include Targeted Direct Regulatory Measures:  Narrowly target direct regulatory measures — such as rebates and efficiency and renewable energy portfolio standards — at high emissions sectors not covered by market-based policies. Create powerful incentives that continually reward improvements to bring down emissions while building political coalitions in favor of climate policy. Terminate subsidies that encourage emission-intensive activities. Expand subsidies that encourage innovation in low emission technologies.

  7. Promote Clean Technologies:  Promote immediate widespread use of mature technologies such as photovoltaics, wind turbines, battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric light duty vehicles, and more efficient end-use devices, especially in lighting, air conditioning, appliances and industrial processes.

  8. Accelerate Electrification:  Aggressively support and promote innovations to accelerate the complete electrification of energy and transportation systems and improve building efficiency.  Support development of lower-cost energy storage for applications in transportation, resilient large-scale and distributed micro-scale grids, and residential uses. Support development of new energy storage technologies, including batteries, super-capacitors, compressed air, hydrogen and thermal storage, as well as advances in heat pumps, efficient lighting, fuel cells, smart buildings and systems integration. These innovative technologies are essential for meeting the target of 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

  9. Reduce Methane Emissions by 50 Percent and Black Carbon Emissions by 90 Percent:  Immediately make maximum use of available technologies combined with regulations to reduce methane emissions by 50 percent and black carbon emissions by 90 percent.  Phase out hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2030 by amending the Montreal Protocol. In addition to the climate and health benefits described under solution #1, this solution will provide access to clean cooking for the poorest 3 billion people who spend hours each day collecting solid biomass fuels and burning them indoors for cooking.

  10. Restore Natural Ecosystems and Improve Natural Carbon Sinks:  Regenerate damaged natural ecosystems and restore soil organic carbon to improve natural sinks for carbon (through afforestation, reducing deforestation and restoration of soil organic carbon).  Implement food waste reduction programs and energy recovery systems to maximize utilization of food produced and recover energy from food that is not consumed.