Energy and Sustainability Policy
Program Office

Getting to Sustainable Energy Systems while Considering Trade-offs, Environmental Justice and Distributional Effects

10/22/2020 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Energy for the Future Seminar Series

Getting to Sustainable Energy Systems while Considering Tradeoffs, Environmental Justice and Distributional Effects

Ines Azevedo, Associate Professor in the Department of Energy Resource Engineering at Stanford University

Abstract: In this talk I will cover several recent papers we have produced in the domain of sustainable energy systems in which we quantify the trade-offs across economic aspects, air pollution, climate change impacts, as well as the distributional effects and environmental justice consequences. In Tschofen, Azevedo, Muller (2019) we use integrated assessment models to compute economy-wide gross external damages (GED) due to premature mortality from air pollution. We find that: (i) economy-wide, GED has decreased by more than 20% from 2008 to 2014; (ii) while much of the air pollution policies have focused to date on the electricity sector, damages from farms are now larger than those from utilities; (iii) 4 sectors, comprising less than 20% of the national GDP, are responsible for ∼75% of GED attributable to economic activities; (iv) uncertainty in GED estimates tends to be high for sectors with predominantly ground-level emissions because these emissions are usually estimated and not measured. In Thind, Tessum, Azevedo, and Marshall (2019) we assess the health impacts associated with PM2.5 pollution from electricity generation by race, income, and geography. We find that exposures are higher for lower-income than for higher-income, but disparities are larger by race than by income. Geographically, we observe large differences between where electricity is generated and where people experience the resulting air pollution health consequences: for 36 US states, most of the health impacts are attributable to emissions in other states. In Sergi et al. (2020a), we estimate inter-county impacts of PM2.5 from all sources and find that the benefits of reduced emissions are not uniformly distributed nationwide, with 26% of counties—concentrated in the South, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest—experiencing worsening health damages since 2008. Around 30% of all U.S. counties receive 90% of their health damages from emissions in other counties, and these damage-importing counties also tend to have lower median incomes. Finally, and we compare the best technology options for the transportation sector (in Tong and Azevedo (2020)) and the power sector (in Sergi et al. (2020b)) when climate and air pollution consequences are tackled in isolation versus considering both aspects jointly

Thursday, October 22, 2020, 4–5p.m.; Q&A/Coffee Hour 5-6p.m.

Sponsored by the John and Willie Leone Family, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering