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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Using carbon tax revenues to help attain climate goals: Insights for Washington State from existing programs

SEI Working Paper No. 2017-05

Author(s): Broekhoff, D. ; Down, A. ; Lazarus, M.
Year: 2017

Research Area(s): Emissions Trading & Offsets ; Climate Mitigation Policy

Description:

This paper examines how best to use revenues from a carbon tax to achieve both climate and non-climate goals, identifying pitfalls and strategies to avoid them.


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Effect of government subsidies for upstream oil infrastructure on U.S. oil production and global CO2 emissions

SEI Working Paper No. 2017-02

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Down, A. ; Lazarus, M. ; Koplow, D.
Year: 2017

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This paper quantifies the effect of federal and state subsidies on U.S. oil production, focusing on the 800+ fields that have been discovered but not yet developed, and examines the climate implications. At recent oil prices of $50 per barrel, subsidies push nearly half of yet-to-be-developed oil into profitability, potentially increasing U.S. oil production by almost 20 billion barrels over the next few decades. Once burned, this oil would emit 8 billion tonnes of CO2, about 1% of the world's remaining carbon budget to keep warming under 2°C, as envisioned in the Paris Agreement. This would represent a much greater share – perhaps a quarter – of a carbon budget for U.S. oil production alone.
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How would eliminating subsidies to the U.S. oil industry affect potential oil production and CO2 emissions?

SEI policy brief

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Down, A. ; Lazarus, M. ; Koplow, D.
Year: 2017

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This policy brief, based on an SEI working paper, examines how removing subsidies to U.S. oil producers would affect potential oil production and resulting global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The analysis shows that billions of dollars in federal and state subsidies could enable large amounts of oil and gas production in the U.S. that would not otherwise be economic. At $50 per barrel, roughly the current oil price, nearly half of discovered (but not yet producing) U.S. oil would depend on subsidies to reach minimum returns acceptable to investors.
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Making future U.S. offshore oil leasing more consistent with climate goals

SEI discussion brief

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

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This briefing paper examines how U.S. oil production might be phased down to align with the Paris Agreement goals, focusing on offshore drilling in federal waters in particular. The short time scale to phase out fossil fuels requires prompt and ambitious action. It is widely acknowledged that to date, progress in reducing emissions has not been fast enough. Even with recent policies, global CO2 emissions are still expected to rise at least through 2040, and investment in coal, oil and gas production remains high and is expected to hold steady or continue to grow. That disconnect between nations' climate goals and fossil fuel-sector investment has led to questions about whether fossil fuel production needs to be constrained along with consumption. In these last days of the Obama administration, there may be opportunities to use federal leadership to initiate such a transition for oil in addition to coal. Offshore oil is especially relevant in the U.S. because it is the dominant source of oil from federal lands, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has been evaluating its upcoming lease schedule.
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Fossil fuel production in a 2°C world: The equity implications of a diminishing carbon budget

SEI discussion brief

Author(s): Kartha, S. ; Lazarus, M. ; Tempest, K.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Climate Equity ; Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This discussion brief examines the equity implications of constraining future fossil fuel production as part of efforts to limit the global surface temperature increase to 2°C. The brief begins with a short overview of the scientific and political context of fossil supply issues, before delving into the two broad equity perspectives. It then presents some quantitative insights into the financial implications (expressed in terms of rents) of historical fossil fuel extraction, and the anticipated financial consequences of constraining extraction. It also quickly reviews some explanations for the lack of deeper examination of these equity related issues in the scholarly literature and policy discourse. The closing section provides some final comments and directions for future research.
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