UCLA School of Law and research partners have published a series of policy papers on how climate change will create opportunities for specific sectors of the business community, and how policymakers can facilitate those opportunities. Each policy p​aper results from one-day workshop discussions that include representatives from key business, academic, and policy sectors of the affected industries.

The workshops and resulting policy papers are sponsored by Bank of America and produced by a partnership of UCLA School of Law’s Environmental Law Center & Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.

​Ethan Elkind is the primary organizer and researcher for the workshops and policy papers. He has a joint appointment at UCLA School of Law and the UC Berkeley School of Law, and has taught in the UCLA Law School’s Frank Wells Environmental Law Clinic. His background is in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), climate change law, environmental justice, and other environmental law topics.

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Ethan Elkind, Bank of America Climate Policy Associate, describes the purposes and accomplishments of the Initiative.

Policy Papers

Renewable Energy Beyond 2020: Next Steps for California (November 2013)

California is on pace to meet its goal of securing 33 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2020.  But energy experts report that the in-state market for renewable energy will lose momentum without new policies to encourage deployment beyond 2020.  To help spur growth, our twelfth report in this series recommends a new renewable energy target for 2030 that accounts for greenhouse gas emissions and tracks the state's long-term climate change goal.  To achieve this outcome, policy makers will need to plan for renewable energy deployment to occur in the most efficient and cost-effective manner and to provide incentives to help realize this vision.

A High Speed Foundation: How to Build a Better California Around High Speed Rail (August2013)

A High Speed FoundationCalifornia will begin construction of a proposed high speed rail system in the San Joaquin Valley in 2013, which will ultimately connect to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  If implemented poorly, however, the system could lead to unchecked development in the Valley that could increase traffic, exacerbate the loss of farmland, and generate more air pollution.  To avoid this outcome, our eleventh paper in this series recommends a Valley-wide collaborative to create a plan for economic growth and environmental preservation around the high speed rail network, support for local planning and mitigation efforts to implement it, and new financing mechanisms to catalyze private investment in station-connected development.

California will need long term, mass consumer adoption of electric vehicles to meet the state's renewable energy and greenhouse gas goals.  This deployment will also boost the state's economy with domestically produced fuel (in the form of electricity) and California-based electric vehicle companies and suppliers.  To realize this long-term vision, our tenth paper in this series recommends an industry and policy-maker coordinated education and outreach campaign about the consumer benefits of electric vehicle technology, reduced taxes and fees to lower the upfront cost of the vehicles, and a well-planned and coordinate public chargi​​ng infrastructure.

Harvesting Clean Energy: How California Can Deploy Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects on Appropriate Farmland (October 2011)

California will need to steer the development of large-scale renewable energy facilities on agricultural land toward lands that do not deplete the state's prime agricultural and biological resources. Key policy recommendations contained in the report include the development of criteria for the most suitable agricultural lands for renewable energy deployment, expedited environmental review and endangered species permitting for projects on these lands, and coordinated state and local land use planning and transmission investments to encourage development on these sites.

All Aboard: How California Can Increase Investments in Public Transit (July 2011)

Our eighth paper of this series looks to how expansion of public transit could benefit California's environment, economy, and quality of life.  It identifies three barriers to such expansion: legal barriers to raising transit revenue, negative perceptions of transit, and unsupportive land use policies.  The paper recommends expansion of existing transit revenue schemes, a reduction to 55% for voter approval of transit funding, publication of data on the economic benefits of public transit, and development of supportive land use policies.​

Drops of Energy: Conserving Urban Water in California to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (May 2011)

In our seventh paper of this series, we examine the connection between water use and energy use. California's annual water consumption requires 20 percent of California's electricity and emits more than 100 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent gases. Barriers to urban water conservation include lack of financial incentives, insufficient data on consumption levels, lack of consumer awareness, and lack of water efficiency funding. This paper discusses short- and long-term measures that California should implement to overcome these barriers. 


The Power of Energy Storage: How to Increase Deployment in California to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (July 2010)

In this report, we look at policies that California and other decision-makers can develop to expand the amount of energy storage capacity in the state in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through cleaner electricity production. Energy storage faces challenges in regulation, cost, scale and lack of awareness. Yet California must invest in energy storage technology, in order to take advantage of the ability of energy storage to even out electricity supply, ensure stability and quality of electricity, and time-shift the use of energy to reduce reliance on "peaker" plants.

Plan for the Future: How Local Governments Can Help Implement California's New Land Use and Climate Change Legislation (July 2010)

Plan for the Future looks how California can improve land-use planning to meet the increasing demand for sustainable development and the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals. Three key barriers to local government action are discussed—lack of political will, scarce fiscal resources devoted to planning sustainable development, and lack of technical assistance—and solutions are proposed. Solutions include: public outreach campaigns; better use of available funding sources; and use of expertise and best practices from other planning jurisdictions.

Saving Energy: How California Can Launch a Statewide Retrofit Program for Existing Residences and Small Businesses (May 2010)

Saving Energy addresses the critical need to provide incentives to make existing buildings more energy-efficient. Retrofitting existing buildings could provide residential households with $400 to $500 in annual savings, while creating new construction jobs and benefitting businesses even more. Small businesses and residences present the best opportunities for retrofits. Local and state financing programs, such as PACE, along with strong licensing standards and consumer awareness campaigns, will provide the necessary incentives.

Room to Grow: How California Agriculture Can Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Mar. 2010)

We recommend best practices for our agricultural industry to remain sustainable and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. Four barriers to such reductions are identified: lack of research into reduction technologies and best practices; insufficient financing; regulatory conflicts; and lack of awareness of existing opportunities for reduction of emissions. Both short- and long-term solutions are proposed that will assist farmers, ranchers, and agricultural industry leaders, as well as local, state and federal governments.

In Our Backyard: How to Increase Renewable Energy Production on Big Buildings and Other Local Spaces (Dec. 2009)

In Our Backyard provides recommendations for overcoming obstacles to widespread adoption of distributed renewable energy generation. We identify four barriers to decentralized renewable energy production: lack of predictable and adequate financing; uncertain permitting and regulatory programs; lack of education and outreach; and split incentives of landlords versus tenants. We propose short and long-term solutions at multiple policy levels, from federal and state governments to local utilities and industry leaders. 

Removing the Roadblocks: How to Make Sustainable Development Happen Now (Aug. 2009)

This report provides recommendations designed to encourage infill development that will improve quality of life and make our cities more sustainable and less dependent on fossil fuels. We offer a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable development that policy makers and industry leaders can reference for immediate and longer-term actions. Most critically, we recommend that local governments develop comprehensive neighborhood plans for sustainable development, with the support of state and federal leaders.




Conference Videos


 Stopping High Speed Sprawl: A Fresno Lunch Presentation

Cisco DeVries, President of Renewable Funding, highlights policies to promote energy efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses.

Renewable Energy

Danny Kennedy, founder and CEO of Sungevity, discusses policies to encourage residential solar installations.