Dr. Karl Hausker, the Senior Fellow of the World Resources Institute’s Energy and Climate Program, delivered a lecture to around 60 students and Ann Arbor residents at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy early Friday afternoon. In his lecture, Hausker examined how humans can and will solve the climate crisis through the use of renewables, nuclear plants and carbon capture. He also discussed the role of states, cities and companies in the clean energy transition.

In addition to his role at the WRI, Hausker previously served President Bill Clinton as deputy assistant administrator for Policy, Planning and Evaluation with the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the chief economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 

During the lecture, Hausker discussed getting to net-zero by producing enough renewable energy to meet annual energy use requirements in buildings and cities throughout the nation. 

“We need to find ways to actually take CO2 out of the atmosphere because we are likely to overshoot the levels that would hold warming to 1.5 degrees or two degrees,” Hausker said. “That is also a daunting sale. But doable.”

Hausker said he is hopeful about the clean energy transition but noted that it comes at a price. Some of the initiatives he spoke of, such as building transmission lines, are costly.

“Transmission is not free,” Hausker said. “That’s an integration cost.”

LSA sophomore Caroline Reed said she wants to do  what she can to help mitigate global warming. 

“I know climate change is happening. And there’s more that we could be doing,” Reed said. “But I don’t specifically know how to do that on a corporate scale, so I thought this would be an interesting lecture.”

Public Policy graduate student Katherine Cima was interested in  Hausker’s thoughts about achieving net-zero carbon emissions. 

“I came because I’m pretty interested in these net-zero initiatives going on,” Cima said. “I’m mostly interested in local governments and cities that are making these goals to be net zero. And so I’m curious what it takes — if it’s a reasonable claim and if there’s any potential to get there before joining.”

After learning more about greenhouse gases in a case competition, Public Policy graduate student Sophie Hart said she became interested in hearing Hausker’s solutions.

“I’m generally interested in solutions for climate change and recently went to a case competition in Toronto where we were looking at potential regional solutions for greenhouse gases and I was really interested in learning more after that,” Hart said.

Hausker went on to discuss the benefits of considering all of the modern technologies as helpers in the climate crisis. He recognized that testing new innovations is valuable in the clean energy transition.

“I want to urge you all to think about solving the climate problem as a question of what solutions are you going to bet on to solve this,” Hausker said. “Are you going to put all your chips on a couple of technologies? Or are you going to spread your chips across multiple technologies?”

Daily Contributor Laura Millar can be reached at lamillar@umich.edu

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