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ESE Seminar - Constantine Samaras: "Speed, Scale, and Transportation Electrification: Deployment and Innovation Policy for the Next U.S. Climate Policy Bill"

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This talk examines technology and policy pathways for meeting U.S. decarbonization targets in 2030 and 2050 under deep uncertainty, with a focus on the transportation sector. Our research uses a robust decision-making method to model the U.S. light-duty, freight, and transit vehicle future fleet, vehicle miles traveled, the penetration of electric and automated technology, the pace of electricity decarbonization, liquid fuel use, and total travel demand. The talk also discusses the carbon mitigation potential of automated delivery drones, based on our empirical testing of more than 200 package delivery drone flights. The talk will conclude with lessons learned from serving in the White House and what is needed for U.S. climate and innovation policy to achieve net-zero emissions.


Dr. Costa Samaras is the Director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, and a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. Dr. Samaras analyzes how technologies and policies affect energy use and national security, resilience to climate change impacts, economic and equity outcomes, and life cycle environmental emissions and other externalities. From 2021-2024, he served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as the Principal Assistant Director for Energy, OSTP Chief Advisor for Energy Policy, and then OSTP Chief Advisor for the Clean Energy Transition, assessing technologies for meeting U.S. climate, resilience, equity, and security objectives, and aligning U.S. energy innovation systems to achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate commitments. He is a Founder of both the Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation and the Power Sector Carbon Index, and was previously a Senior Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation as well as a megaprojects engineer in New York City. He received a joint Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon, and an MPA in Public Policy from New York University.