VIDEO: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Electrical Power Sector


Paul L. Joskow

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The 9th Annual Schultz Lecture, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Electrical Power Sector, was presented by Paul L. Joskow on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. The event took place in Wolf Law Building's Wittemyer Courtroom.

Mr. Joskow became President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on January 1, 2008. He is also the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics, Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Electricity generation accounts for about 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While emissions have declined by about 20% in the last ten years, much of this reduction is due to the fortuitous availability of cheap natural gas which has provided incentives to substitute less CO2-intensive natural gas for coal as a generation fuel. The sector faces many challenges to meet long- run 2050 goals of reducing emissions by as much as 80% from 2005 levels. These challenges include the diversity of federal, state and municipal regulation, the diverse and balkanized structure of the industry from state to state and region to region, the failure to enact policies to place a price on all carbon emissions, the extensive reliance on subsidies and command and control regulation to promote renewables and energy efficiencies, uncertainties about aggressive assumptions about improvements in energy efficiency beyond long-term trends, pre-mature closure of carbon free nuclear generating technologies, integrating renewables efficiently into large regional grids, methane leaks, and transmission constraints. The lecture discussed these challenges and suggested policies to reduce the costs and smooth the transition to a low carbon electricity sector.


The Schultz Lectureship Fund was created in 2007 by the generosity of John H. (‘53) and Cynthia H. Schultz to support a lecture each year by scholars in the fields of oil and gas, energy, or natural resources law.

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