Peter Erickson

Senior Scientist


Seattle, WA
pete.erickson@sei-us.org
skype: pugetgold
+1 (206) 547-4000 x3#

Peter is a Staff Scientist in the Climate and Energy program in SEI's Seattle office. His research focuses on climate change policy, with particular interests in the role of offsets in cap-and-trade programs, contribution of consumption and behavior change to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, industrial policy, and cities.

Current or recent projects include the development of a greenhouse gas tracking framework for a major U.S. metropolitan area (Seattle); a study on the quality and quantity of potential greenhouse gas offsets in the United States; a study on the role of international offsets in global climate mitigation; and a long-term emission reduction scenario for sustainable consumption and production in the United States.

Peter joined SEI in 2008 after 8 years consulting on environmental issues for cities and states throughout the United States. He received a B.A. from Carleton College in 1998, with a major in geology and extensive studies in mathematics.


Recent Publications by Peter Erickson

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Impact of the Keystone XL pipeline on global oil markets and greenhouse gas emissions

Nature Climate Change, online August 10, 2014

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Lazarus, M.
Year: 2014

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This paper applies a simple economic model to gauge the potential impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on global greenhouse gas emissions. Climate policy and analysis often focus on energy production and consumption, but seldom consider how energy transportation infrastructure shapes energy systems. Here the authors apply a simple model to understand the implications of the pipeline for greenhouse gas emissions as a function of any resulting increase in oil sands production. They find that for every barrel of increased production, global oil consumption would increase 0.6 barrels owing to the incremental decrease in global oil prices. As a result, and depending on the extent to which the pipeline leads to greater oil sands production, the net annual impact of Keystone XL could range from virtually none to 110 million tonnes CO2 equivalent annually. This spread is four times wider than found by the U.S. State Department (1–27 million tonnes CO2e), which did not account for global oil market effects.
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Net climate change mitigation of the Clean Development Mechanism

Energy Policy, in press, online 22 May 2014

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Lazarus, M. ; Spalding-Fecher, R.
Year: 2014

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

Description: This article gauges the net emissions impact of the CDM, providing two scenarios based on different assumptions about the additionality of large-scale power projects. It also identifies options to increase the CDM's mitigation benefits. The authors find that the CDM's net mitigation impact likely hinges on the additionality of large-scale power projects, which are expected to generate the majority of CDM credits going forward. If these projects are truly additional and continue to operate well beyond the credit issuance period, they will decrease global greenhouse gas emissions. However, if they are mostly non-additional, as research suggests, they could increase global greenhouse gas emissions. The article closes with a discussion of possible means to increase mitigation benefit.
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2012 Seattle Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

Prepared by SEI for the Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Tempest, K.
Year: 2014

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This 2012 GHG inventory analyzes Seattle's community emissions in 1990, 2005, 2008, and 2012, to help the City monitor its performance against its climate change mitigation goals and inform ongoing climate action planning. Greenhouse gas emissions inventories are the primary means of monitoring and reporting progress toward emission-reduction goals. The inventory considers both "core" emissions – building energy use, road transportation, and waste management – and "expanded" emissions including additional sources, such as industry, marine, rail, and air travel, yard equipment, and wastewater treatment. Accounting for offsets purchased by Seattle City Light for the small portion of fossil fuel-based electricity in its portfolio, total core emissions have declined 4%, from about 3.8 million tons CO2e in 1990 to about 3.6 million tons in 2008 and 2012. On a per-person basis, Seattle's emissions have declined 22% since 1990 and 6% since 2008. Taking the expanded view, Seattle's emissions totaled 6.0 million tons CO2e in 2012; GHGs were reduced by 1% from 1990 to 2012.
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SEI Research Synthesis: Climate change mitigation and bioenergy

SEI Research Synthesis Brief, Reducing Climate Risk theme

Author(s): Davis, M. ; Heaps, C. ; Lazarus, M. ; Erickson, P. ; Johnson, F.X.; Nilsson, M.
Year: 2014

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description:

Avoiding dangerous climate change requires ambitious actions to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SEI works to inform, support and advise decision-makers and civil society on ways to achieve these reductions and build a low-carbon future – including the role of bioenergy. SEI's research on climate mitigation is broad and diverse, with significant contributions to both the scientific community and policy discourses around the world. We have also built tools and analytical frameworks to explore the options, from the global to the local level, and we work to build capacity for mitigation planning and analysis. This brief, part of a series synthesizing SEI research from 2009 to 2013, presents three key insights from our work, an overview of major projects and publications, and a look at new and ongoing work as well as future research pathways.
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Greenhouse gas emissions implications of the Keystone XL pipeline

SEI Working Paper No. 2013-11

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Lazarus, M.
Year: 2013

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: Climate policy and analysis often focus on energy production and consumption, but seldom consider the role of energy transportation infrastructure in shaping energy systems, energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal to extend the Keystone XL pipeline has brought these issues to the fore. This paper looks how the pipeline might affect global GHG emissions, with particular focus on its potential to affect global oil consumption by increasing supply and thus decreasing prices. The authors consider a range of possible outcomes, if the Keystone XL pipeline were not completed: 1) that the same amount of oil (100% of Keystone capacity) would reach the market anyway by other means; 2) that half of it would; or 3) that none would. For the latter case, they find that the pipeline's impact on global oil prices, though modest (less than 1%), could be enough to increase global oil demand by 510,000 barrels per day, or 62% of Keystone XL capacity. Such an increase could boost global GHG emissions by as much as 93 million tCO2e per year in 2020. These findings suggest that the U.S. government should more closely examine the pipeline's potential effect on oil markets before making a final decision.
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