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Events & Media - Climate Forum


AB 32: Visionary leadership or counterproductive posturing?

Santa Barbara, CA – Do California’s efforts to control greenhouse gases – such as the passage of AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – represent genuine leadership and meaningful progress in addressing climate change? Or are they merely expensive posturing by the state that will raise the cost of doing business and drive away jobs without reducing greenhouse gas emissions?   


Five policy experts, representing the state legislature, the Public Utilities Commission, the Air Resources Board, Southern California Edison, and the Harvard Environmental Law Program, will convene at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management to address those and related questions in a debate about the status and future of California’s climate policies. The panel discussion will feature each expert making a short presentation, followed by a moderated discussion and questions from the audience.



Mike Hertel, Southern California Edison
As Director of Corporate Environmental Policy for Southern California Edison Company (SCE),
Michael Hertel both leads the company’s efforts to identify current and future environmental issues, legislation, and trends, and recommends policy for corporate action. Dr. Hertel is responsible for contacts with a number of environmental agencies, among them the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Coastal Commission, the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Water Quality Control Board, and the California Department of Fish and Game.  He is co-lead of SCE’s Climate Initiatives.


Jody Freeman, Director, Harvard Environmental Law Program
Professor Freeman's work in environmental law centers on the design of governance institutions, regulatory tools and decision-making procedures, particularly climate-related institutional design. She recently authored an amicus brief on behalf of Madeleine Albright in Massachusetts vs. EPA, the global warming case to be decided by the Supreme Court this year. Freeman co-authors a leading casebook in environmental law, now in it’s seventh edition. Her new book, Moving to Markets in Environmental Regulation, is a collection of essays by leading legal scholars and economists comparing the performance of market-driven and command-and-control approaches to environmental regulation.


Fran Pavley, Former California Assemblywoman
A three-term Assembly member, Fran Pavley authored the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) and the Clean Car Regulations Bill (AB 1493), which has served as a model for legislation in ten other states and Canada. Formerly a teacher and the mayor of Agoura Hills, she was recognized by Scientific American as a Top Technology Leader in Transportation and received, along with Al Gore, the 2006 California League of Conservation Voters Global Warming Leadership Award. She is currently Distinguished Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy and a senior climate advisor for the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Michael R. Peevey, President, California Public Utilities Commission (PUC)
As President of the PUC, Michael Peevey challenges utilities to embrace new technologies and provide safe, high-quality services. He is a strong supporter of renewable energy and renewable procurement requirements for utilities, and is a leader in implementing California’s Solar and Greenhouse Gas Initiatives. Mr. Peevey was formerly president of NewEnergy Inc., Edison International, and Southern California Edison Company. He has received the Pat Brown Legacy Award, been named Man of the Year by the Power Association of Northern California, and received the Climate Action Champion Award by the California Climate Action Registry. 

Catherine Witherspoon, Executive Officer, California Air Resources Board (ARB)
Catherine Witherspoon oversees the day-to-day operations of a 1,000-member staff with an annual budget of approximately $130 million. She began her career at ARB as a student assistant in 1981 and held positions of increasing responsibility over the next 13 years, serving as legislative representative, chief of air quality planning, and assistant executive officer. Between 1995 and 1998, Ms. Witherspoon served as an expert consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco, was legislative director for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and ran her own consulting firm. She returned to ARB in 1999 and was named executive officer in 2003.


Moderator: Charles Kolstad, Professor of Environmental Economics, UCSB
Charles Kolstad is an internationally known expert on the economics of climate change and also a professor in both the Department of Economics and the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara. He is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and serves as an advisor to the State of California on its implementation of AB32. Professor Kolstad has written widely on environmental and natural resource economics and has served as president of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. His textbook, Environmental Economics, has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. Professor Kolstad holds a PhD from Stanford University and has previously taught at the University of Illinois, MIT, and Stanford.

Organized by Corbett Grainger and Charles Kolstad