UC Davis Institute Focuses on Energy and Environmental Policy

November 16, 2012 |   | Contact: M. Daniel DeCillis

The Policy Institute leverages a wide range of disciplines to help address environmental policy challenges.

A new initiative at the University of California, Davis is promoting collaborative engagement between University researchers and policy-makers to help better inform energy and environmental policy.

The Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy was created earlier this year to bring to bear expertise at the University of California and other research institutions to help inform state, federal and international policy in the areas of energy, climate, transportation, and ecology. The Institute focuses on issues where UC Davis has considerable expertise, including sustainable mobility, clean energy, energy and water efficiency, climate, agriculture, and ecology. Its primary efforts include: leveraging existing research at UC Davis and other top research institutions; bringing knowledge to bear and identifying key information gaps; engaging in productive dialogues with scientists, government, industry, and NGOs; and educating students, researchers and faculty in the policy process so they can increase the impact of their research on policy.

For example, in California, the Policy Institute is informing the State’s climate adaptation and mitigation policies, including those enacted to meet the goals set forth in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32).

“There is a great deal of research that exists relevant to addressing California’s climate policy goals,” said Institute director Anthony Eggert. “One of our motivations in building this institute was that, despite the fact that there is a tremendous amount of policy-relevant information and knowledge creation about climate policy and strategies, only a small fraction of it gets considered in the policy discussions. Our goal is to leverage that knowledge and make it accessible in order to better inform the discussion. We also look to better understand the needs of the policy-makers to shape future research.”

“Our goal is to identify a policy need and then work with the right people to meet that need,” said Associate Director Amber Mace. “By bringing together experts, stakeholders, and the policy decision-makers and helping to translate the research, we are proactively informing the development of climate adaptation policies in California and elsewhere.”

The Institute is partnering with CCST on the California’s Energy Future Policy Study, which follows a series of reports CCST has published over the past two years as part of an ongoing study to explore the ways in which California can manage energy production, storage, and consumption in order to meet the emissions goals set forth by AB32, based on the potential of existing technologies. Associate Director Mace has also served for several years on the selection committee for the California S&T Policy Fellows program, which is administered by CCST.

“Our respective organizations are complementary in many ways,” said Eggert. “The Policy Institute is well suited to help inform decision-making with relevant science due in part to our strong connections with well-established interdisciplinary energy and environmental research centers, as well as our proximity to Sacramento, national and international connections.”

“California, like the rest of the country, is under significant pressure to promote a healthy, growing economy while simultaneously improving environmental quality,” added Eggert. “Our partnerships here at UC Davis and our connections into the policy world enable us to deliver credible, relevant, and timely information and analysis to the people when they need it.”

The Policy Institute is a centerpiece of the UC Davis “land-grant” commitment to improving citizen’s quality of life worldwide; the campus is providing initial financial support along with matching grants to leverage additional public and private funding opportunities.

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