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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Master of Advanced Studies program in Climate Science and Policy responds to an international need for people working in topics affected by the world's changing oceans and climate to combine the scientific knowledge of the Earth's climate system with an understanding of the political, legal, and economic challenges associated with applying scientific knowledge in particular governmental and social contexts. The program's interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to prepare practitioners to make wise and realistic decisions about the management of climate impacts and their associated risks. Crossing a variety of fields in climate sciences, policy and communication, the program invites students with professional backgrounds in the private and public sectors as well as non-government organizations (NGOs).

Cover page of The Environmental Justice Implications of Air Pollution Changes Following COVID-19 Stay at Home Policies in San Diego County

The Environmental Justice Implications of Air Pollution Changes Following COVID-19 Stay at Home Policies in San Diego County


COVID-19 policies impacted fine particulate matter (PM2.5 ) levels in San Diego County. This study looked at the benefits of COVID-19-related policies and changes in PM2.5 levels across ZIP codes in San Diego County. Weekly PM2.5 anomalies were calculated for each ZIP code by subtracting the average PM2.5 concentrations of 2020 by average of the historical period (2000 - 2019). Five periods were selected for individual analyses based on the different COVID-19 policies and measures implemented. These policies involved the first stay-at-home order (analysis #1), summer restrictions (analysis #2), the second stay-at-home order (analysis #3), the average of analyses 1-3, (analysis #4), and the wildfire season (analysis #5). PM2.5 anomalies and seven different socioeconomic status (SES) variables were mapped to show any spatial variability. Linear regression models were used to quantify the relationship between SES variables and PM2.5 anomalies for each analysis. The first stay-at-home order (analysis #1) had the lowest PM2.5 anomalies across the County. Analysis #5, on the other hand, had the highest positive anomalies. COVID-19 mobility restrictions and the associated short-lived decline in air pollution influenced the ZIP codes differently. South San Diego County is a greatly disadvantaged area with high unemployment rate, low income, high poverty rate, and less education compared to others within the County. A significant inverse relationship was observed between the percentage of African American within a given ZIP code and PM2.5 anomalies. Future policies need to tackle health disparities, which involves stringent policies, a better public transit system, community advocacy, and cleaner technology.

Cover page of An Electric Vehicle Rideshare Business Model: Transportation network company pilot program providing electric vehicles for low-income rideshare driver use

An Electric Vehicle Rideshare Business Model: Transportation network company pilot program providing electric vehicles for low-income rideshare driver use


Rideshare services are a significant part of the transportation mix, increasing vehicle emissions that cause environmental and social impacts. According to the California Air Resource Board (CARB), transportation network company (TNC) fleet emissions per passenger mile traveled are 50% higher than the statewide passenger vehicle average. Rideshare-related emissions are significant, projected to account for 19% of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 2040 (Atlas Public Policy, 2019). The Rideshare industry is now regulated in California to reduce 90% of vehicle emissions by 2030 (CARB). Reportedly, only 0.2 percent of TNC vehicles were electric as of 2018 (International Council on Clean Transportation, 2019). Additionally, Low-income rideshare drivers face barriers to accessing electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging, further complicating achieving regulatory mandates.

This project identifies the barriers to electric vehicle charging and electric vehicles. The paper provides a business model outline for the transportation network company industry that identifies criteria and location of pilot sites for rideshare electric vehicle fleets with EV charging ability in low-income communities. Additionally, the project outlines the estimated costs of this pilot project, the expected income and appreciation on investments, and a proposed public rebate program to incentivize the private sector deployment of EV fleets at identified sites.

Cover page of Can the United States Keep a Net Zero Promise? A Federal Climate Briefing Book

Can the United States Keep a Net Zero Promise? A Federal Climate Briefing Book


Climate change is both an urgent problem and one that it has taken decades for the United States government to address in a comprehensive way. The purpose of this project is to frame the central problem of global warming – the accumulation of CO2 in our atmosphere and oceans – and to understand broadly the role of the federal government in reducing atmospheric carbon. The US cannot single-handedly solve global warming but it can do its part as the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the beneficiary of decades of economic development built on fossil fuel energy. Is the US on track to achieve its goal of net zero carbon by 2050?

The format that follows is a loosely-defined “briefing book” with two interwoven parts: talking points appropriate for non-experts, and brief accompanying figures or analysis. This structure seeks to organize essential information, and the final product is a look at federal climate policy tools and a quick-reference guide of illustrative facts and language useful for climate communications, for voter education, for grant-writing, for media research, or for any other context requiring basic, clear and credible messaging.

Cover page of Integration of Local Scientists Into Local Communities to Help Solve Local Problems

Integration of Local Scientists Into Local Communities to Help Solve Local Problems


Communities across the countries are facing enormous challenges in the wake of climate change. From flooding to drought, clean drinking water to electrical grid failures there are so many issues where do you start? Integrating local university scientists to partner with cities and towns, especially low-income communities can be a win-win for all. Universities and colleges have the resources and students who could be persuaded to put their skills to work right in their backyards. Most colleges have environmental science and sustainability courses that could benefit from working on a real project that could benefit the entire community. Most cities could serve as an urban or rural laboratory for research driven by real projects and school curriculum. The community and school would become partners, signing an agreement, clearly defining the project. No financial impact for either the community or school would be necessary or required. The only cost would be when the community would decide to implement the solutions coming from the scientists and students.

Cover page of Beyond Boom and Bust: An emerging clean energy economy in Wyoming

Beyond Boom and Bust: An emerging clean energy economy in Wyoming


While Wyoming is known for fossil fuel extraction, the state has the capacity to generate 1,653,856 GWh of wind per year. With the growing rate of greenhouse gas emissions and the cyclical Boom-Bust that the state faces, there is an opportunity for private sector investment and a state and federal government that can utilize the overgeneration capacity of wind in Wyoming for Bitcoin mining operations and Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage. Currently, projects are under development, but the issue of overgenerated wind continues to exist. By harnessing the overgenerated wind for Bitcoin mining, Wyoming has the opportunity to redistribute the global hashrate, incentivize Bitcoin miners to move their operations to Wyoming, and stimulate job growth as a result. Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage could help propel Bitcoin mining operations as well as harness carbon to manufacture products across various industries. By assessing workforce characteristics and proposed federal policies, this research addresses the need for the implementation of the Endless Frontier Act with the inclusion of wind turbine and CCS development, workforce protection, and cryptocurrency incentives.

Cover page of Milan Creek Restoration and Recreational Trail Proposal

Milan Creek Restoration and Recreational Trail Proposal


Part of addressing the climate crisis means creating healthy resilient cities. That framework includes increasing locality, creating green recreational spaces, and decreasing pollution while restoring/revitalizing natural urban waterways to their natural habitat. Transforming our neighborhood spaces allows cities to function in a healthier way which increases the overall quality of life in those communities. In the City of La Mirada, California, there is a waterway called Milan Creek that flows through the city. This creek, now channelized into a hard bottom flood control channel and gated, has served as a dumping ground for trash, is consistently broken into, vandalized, and ultimately has served as an eyesore to the community. My proposal is to turn this creek into a recreational trail while revitalizing the creek as close to its natural habitat as possible. After conducting a qualitative survey of the 221 houses that have the creek to their backyards, results show residents overwhelmingly support the creation of the recreational trail and revitalization of the creek. With these results, I am proposing to repurpose the riverbed into a walking trail while putting forth three different concepts for the revitalization: 1) a full revitalization, 2) a partial revitalization, and 3) leaving as a concrete flood control channel. This proposal prioritizes green space equity, heals the land, and promotes the exploration of how urban waterways have been socially constructed through colonization to serve as borders while illuminating how a Green New Deal framework can help transform our cities to meet the demands of the climate crisis.

Cover page of Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Opportunities and Challenges for San Diego

Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Opportunities and Challenges for San Diego


Sustainable aviation fuel is the primary tool through which the aviation sector can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades.  Its ability to penetrate the jet fuel market is currently constrained by high prices, policy barriers and supply challenges. A federal tax credit is politically viable and has the potential to drastically increase sustainable aviation fuel production in the United States.  San Diego International Airport has the opportunity to become an early adopter of this fuel due to favorable California policies and proximity to sustainable aviation fuel suppliers.  Airport engagement with airlines and fuel suppliers will be necessary to promote San Diego as a welcome destination and partner in a sustainable aviation future.

Cover page of Rising Tensions: The impact of Sea Level Rise on Maritime Zones

Rising Tensions: The impact of Sea Level Rise on Maritime Zones


Sea Level Rise will result in a variety of impacts by 2100. One of these will be changing coastlines around the world as land is inundated by the ocean. Currently, the mean low-water lines around the world are used as baselines for maritime zones under the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea. These physical points will change in the future and UNCLOS does not explicitly state what this means for maritime zones. In some cases the Vienna Convention on the Law of International Treaties can be applied to fix zones defined under bilateral treaties. However, for zones not defined in a bilateral treaty, the future is more uncertain. The future of these zones is likely to be up to the discretion of courts and tribunals with jurisdiction over UNCLOS or rely on updates to the convention.

Cover page of The Sixth Carbon Metric: A New Methodology for Climate Change Impact Investing

The Sixth Carbon Metric: A New Methodology for Climate Change Impact Investing


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of a novel greenhouse gas (GHG) emission metric within the context of recommendations made by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) (TCFD 2017) for how asset owners and managers should account for the impacts of emissions associated with their investments and holdings. The goal of the metric is to incorporate requirements outlined by Paul Brest and Kelly Born in the seminal paper “Unpacking the Impact in Impact Investing” 1 into carbon metrics already recommended by the TCFD, including footprint analysis that adds and compares portfolios based on their associated Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions 2 profiles.The new metric is designed to evaluate alternatively the directionality (slope) and velocity (rate) of carbon emissions reductions so critical to a market-based solution for addressing climate change. This study utilizes historical emissions and public equity security data to complete a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) on separate climate focused investment strategies and a common benchmark. The objective of the CBA is to determine which of the potential decisions for investments would lead to the best outcome, in terms of emissions reduction. This study assumes an initial investment of a hypothetical $1 billion ($1b) on behalf of a global pension scheme concerned about the long-term climate-related ramifications of their investments. This study finds that the use of a Smart Climate â approach leads to greater insight into the attribution of return performance and a total net benefit of carbon reductions (or impact) over alternative market approaches to investing for a low carbon future. In conclusion, this study finds that this new metric can be useful in assisting asset owners and managers in evaluating the total climate-related impacts of their investment decisions. In addition, this study also suggests that investors can achieve greater total impact by overweighting companies that score highly for how they are managing their climate change transition risk with regards to a business as usual benchmark.

Cover page of Climate Curiosities: A Podcast Championing Climate Science Communications

Climate Curiosities: A Podcast Championing Climate Science Communications


Climate change has become a top priority for many scientists and politicians around the world, but most of the general public cannot understand their technical terminology. Without the proper knowledge or exposure to climate science and policy, the public is left confused and uninformed on what to think, what to do individually and how to vote on systematic climate policies. For my capstone, I created the Climate Curiosities Podcast. It is designed to be an approachable and easily accessible platform to connect people with climate science and policy experts and address some of the most common curiosities about climate change. The Climate Curiosities Podcast breaks down three major questions: 1. What scientific evidence do we have to support climate change observations and projections? 2. What are the causes and consequences of climate change, specifically on humans? 3. What are some actions and solutions that are available to address climate change today? Interested in learning more? Listen to the Climate Curiosities Podcast, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.