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ESE Seminar - Daniel Kammen: "Science and Policy for the Just Energy Transition"

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The urgency of the climate emergency we face has prompted some nations, corporations, and many civil society organizations to greatly expand their decarbonization and climate protection actions.  The paths to deeply (and ultimately entirely) decarbonizing local, national and regional economies requires innovations in a wide range of areas where advanced (and nonlinear) computing, materials design, discovery, and implementation, and most notably highly interdisciplinary work across diverse fields (energy-food-water; building materials-management; data-science for materials and social-justice smart decisions, etc. …) are all at early stages.  The demand for critical, rare-Earth materials, as just one example, is forecast to grow by 1000% by 2050, demanding new approaches to shifting to sustainable materials, recycling and reduce usage strategies that are far beyond what is seen as possible today.  We will highlight examples and challenges in leveraging clean energy for energy access in Africa, building an Just electrified mobility platform in the US, Asia, and Africa, and in how theoretical power sector can become a  'Justice First' climate strategy.


Daniel Kammen is the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Professor of Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley, with parallel appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. His work is focused on decarbonization, energy access, and climate justice. He has served as Senior Advisor for Energy and Innovation at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Kammen is a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC. He is the Co-Chair of the UC Berkeley Roundtable on Climate and Environmental Justice (

Kammen was appointed the first Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA) Fellow by Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton in April 2010 and served as Science Envoy for Secretary of State John Kerry (2016- 2017).

His research is focused on the science and policy of decarbonized energy systems, energy access, and environmental justice. He has published more than 450 papers, which are available on his laboratory website, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL,  His research is currently focused on: decarbonization of power systems around the world; energy access and social justice; materials science for low-carbon economies; big-data approaches to clean transportation, and on the electrification of health facilities across Africa (HETA).

Kammen has founded or is on the board of over 10 companies, and has served the State of California and US federal government in expert and advisory capacities. Kammen was the First Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the World Bank (2010 – 2011).

Kammen was educated in physics at Cornell and Harvard, and held postdoctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology and Harvard. Before moving to the University of California, Berkeley, he was Assistant Professor and Chair of the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Program at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

Dr. Kammen has served as a contributing or coordinating lead author on various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1999. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Kammen serves on the Advisory Committee for Energy & Environment for the X-Prize Foundation. He is on the board of Native Renewables (Flagstaff, AZ); The Mpala Research Center (Nanyuki, Kenya), the Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland, CA), The Human Needs Project/Kibera Town Center (Nairobi, Kenya).

Kammen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.

He is a member of the Diversity Scholars Network,

Related Papers and References

Ari Ball-Burack & Xi Xi & Kammen, DM "From powerpoint to powerplant: Analyzing the impacts of the Sunnylands Agreement,"2024 Environ. Res. Lett. 19 041007. DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/ad3284

Puig, Daniel, Magda Moner-Girona, Daniel M Kammen, Yacob Mulugetta, Atef Marzouk, Maximilian Jarrett, Yohannes Hailu & Nebojša Nakićenović (2021) “An action agenda for Africa’s electricity sector”Science373, 616-9. DOI: 10.1126/science.abh1975.

Schmitt, O., Kittner, N., Kondoff, M, and Kammen, D. M. (2019) “Leverage diverse renewables to save tropical rivers”Nature569, 330-332. DOI:10.1038/d41586-019-01498-8

Sunter, Deborah, Castellanos, Sergio, and Daniel M Kammen (2019) “Disparities in rooftop photovoltaics deployment in the United States by race and ethnicity,“ Nature Sustainability2, 71 – 76.