Meeting Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goals will require a drastic restructuring of California’s energy system. Monterey Institute Professor Jim Williams, a senior scientist at Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) in his other life, is at the forefront of the field attempting to find the best path for California to take on this monumental transition. Executive Order S-3-05 sets the target for California’s emissions in 2050 to be 80% below 1990 levels, but gives little guidance on how this will be achieved. Realizing that not enough was being done to start this journey, Williams designed a model that projects the best ways to reach the goal, how California’s new energy system will have to work, and what it will cost.
This unique research has caught the eye of global policy makers and Professor Williams has been invited to present his 2050 findings from Sacramento to Brussels. Prior to this, Williams and the E3 team developed a model of how to meet the near-term requirements of California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), which requires reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. This work not only played a pivotal role in California's climate policy, it also caught the eye of Chinese policy-makers. Williams has recently begun a long-term project assisting the Chinese in building a similar model for planning their energy future.