Michael Lazarus

Senior Scientist, Center Director


Seattle, WA
mlaz@sei-us.org
skype: michaellazarus
+1 (206) 547-4000 x1#

Michael became Center Director in January 2015. He also leads the Seattle office of SEI-US. His current research focuses on energy and climate policy, on carbon markets and offsets, and on state and local energy and climate initiatives in the U.S.

He brings over 20 years of professional experience in energy and environmental analysis and capacity building. He has worked throughout North America, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe with support from government agencies, development banks, foundations, utilities, and non-profit groups.

From 2002 to 2007, he was a member of the Methodology Panel of the Clean Development Mechanism, the project-based emission reduction trading program of the Kyoto Protocol.

During the 2005-2006 academic year, he was a visiting researcher at the Energy Policy and Economics Institute at the University of Grenoble, France, where he led a research project on Linking Technology Development with Emissions Commitments: Exploring Metrics for Effort and Outcome.

Michael is currently an advisor to the Western Climate Institute, and to the Chinese Economist 50 Forum's initiative on the Economics of Climate Change Initiative. He is Adjunct Faculty at the Evans School of Public Administration at University of Washington, where teaches a graduate course on Energy and Climate Policy.

Michael received an M.S. in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984.


Recent Publications by Michael Lazarus

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How would phasing out U.S. federal leases for fossil fuel extraction affect CO2 emissions and 2°C goals?

SEI Working Paper No. 2016-02

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Lazarus, M.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This paper examines the implications for U.S. fossil fuel production and global CO2 emissions of ceasing to issue new federal leases for fossil fuel extraction and not renewing existing leases for resources that are not yet producing. Avoiding dangerous climate change will require a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. By some estimates, a phase out of global fossil fuel consumption and production – particularly coal and oil – will need to be nearly complete within 50 years. Given the scale of such a transition, nations may need to consider a broad suite of policy approaches that aim not only to reduce fossil fuel demand – the current focus – but also constrain fossil fuel supply growth.
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Impact of phasing out federal coal and oil leases on CO2 emissions and 2°C goals

SEI policy brief

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Lazarus, M.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description:

This policy brief, based on an SEI Working Paper, examines the implications for U.S. fossil fuel production and global CO2 emissions of ceasing to issue new federal leases for fossil fuel extraction and not renewing certain existing leases. Ceasing to issue new leases for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and waters, and avoiding renewals of existing leases for resources that are not yet producing, would likely lead to a steady decline in U.S. coal production. Oil and gas extraction would likely drop as well, but more slowly.


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Supply-side climate policy: the road less taken

SEI Working Paper No. 2015-13

Author(s): Lazarus, M. ; Erickson, P. ; Tempest, K.
Year: 2015

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This paper explains the concept of supply-side climate policy, examines why these options have not been widely used to date, and provides a framework for assessing their effectiveness. It provides a typology of supply-side policies and frameworks for assessing their effectiveness, efficiency, and feasibility. It finds that supply-side policies, such as removal of producer subsidies, compensation of resource owners for leaving fuels "unburned", or outright restrictions on resource development, could bring important benefits. Such policies could allow for greater emission reductions at the same (or lower) cost than demand-side policies alone. They could also help to reduce carbon lock-in effects, making it easier for lower-carbon alternatives to compete with fossil fuels.
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Options and Issues for Restricted Linking of Emissions Trading Systems

Produced for the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) Technical Dialogue on linking emissions trading systems

Author(s): Lazarus, M. ; Schneider, L. ; Lee, C.M. ; van Asselt, H.
Year: 2015

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This paper examines options that jurisdictions could pursue to capture some of the benefits of linking emissions trading systems (ETSs), short of full linking. Linking ETSs offers many potential benefits, including economic benefits, political benefits, and administrative and institutional benefits. Linking may ultimately be necessary for an ETS to achieve its economic and political objectives, especially for smaller systems. As the limited number of existing links attests, however, linking faces many challenges. This paper thus examines alternatives to full linking, focusing in particular on the potential advantages and drawbacks of "restricted linking": options that enable the flow of units among jurisdictions, but with specific constraints such as quantity limits ("quotas"), or conditions such as exchange rates, to help address concerns that full harmonization might create.
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Carbon lock-in from fossil fuel supply infrastructure

SEI discussion brief

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Lazarus, M. ; Tempest, K.
Year: 2015

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: A transition to a low-carbon economy is essential to ensuring a safer climate, but it will not be easy, as the world continues to rely heavily on an abundant and growing supply of fossil fuels. A key concern with ongoing investments in fossil fuel supply and the technologies that use these fuels is "carbon lock-in" – that, once certain carbon-intensive investments are made, and development pathways are chosen, fossil fuel dependence and associated carbon emissions will be "locked in", making it more difficult to move to lower-carbon pathways. The authors propose a two-step approach to gauging the relative lock-in risks of investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction.
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