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Near Zero
Steven J. Davis
University of California, Irvine  |  Dept. of Earth System Science
Satisfying global demand for energy, food, and goods without emitting CO2 to the atmosphere is a central challenge of the 21st century.  My research is aimed at understanding the scale of that challenge and finding ways to meet it.
Bridge or detour?
Natural gas and US CO2 emissions

Environmental Research Letters | September 24, 2014

Leaking methane isn't the only reason natural gas may not reduce GHG emissions: gas also competes against low-carbon renewable energy sources. Across a range of gas supplies, our modeling shows that abundant gas replaces both coal and renewables and in the end has little effect on future US GHG emissions even if there is no leakage. Policy may reduce emissions; cheap gas on its own won't.

video
Shearer et al., 2014
Altmetric
Selected Press: Science, WaPo, ClimateProgress
Sharing a quota of cumulative emissions
Nature Climate Change | September 21, 2014

Because climate warming is proportional to cumulative GHG emissions, we know how long a 'runway' we have before we reach any given level of warming. The question is how to divvy up that runway among countries given that industrialized countries don't want to stop emitting and developing countries want to start emitting more. Here, we describe a quantitative method for doing the sharing.

Raupach et al., 2014
Altmetric
Selected Press: NatGeo, WSJ
Commitment accounting of CO2 emissions
Environmental Research Letters | August 26, 2014

As of 2012, power plants existing worldwide represent roughly 300 billion tons of future CO2 emissions, assuming individual plants operate for a lifetime of 40 years. Moreover, committed emissions from the power sector have been growing globally at a rate of about 4% per year. This paper presents a formal method of commitment accounting that can inform public policy by quantifying future emissions implied by current investments.

video
Davis and Socolow, 2014
Altmetric
Selected Press: Science, Dot Earth, Newsweek, Guardian
Methods for attributing land-use emissions
to products

Carbon Management | August 12, 2014

Clearing and use of land produce GHG emissions, but these emissions happen over long periods of time. And during that time, the land may be useds in different ways to produce different products (e.g., corn, soybean, beef, wood, etc.) In this review, we demonstrate several methods of assigning land use emissions to specific products, and show that different methods have dramatically different results. Analysts should communicate their choices and consider the implications in light of their goals.

Davis et al., 2014