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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Advancing climate ambition: How city-scale actions can contribute to global climate goals

SEI Working Paper No. 2014-06

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

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This paper, which complements a brief by UN Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg, quantifies the potential contributions of urban areas to global climate change mitigation, with a focus on sectors over which city leaders have particular influence. Cities have unique and strong influence over several policy levers – from urban planning to public transportation – that make them critical actors in reducing GHG emissions, avoiding further carbon lock-in, and decreasing the cost of future abatement. The authors find that urban actions could decrease global GHG emissions by 3.7 Gt CO2e in 2030, compared with a reference scenario, and by 8.0 Gt CO2e in 2050. The greatest reductions arise from deep improvements in residential building energy efficiency and from a transition to efficient public transport for personal urban mobility.
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Advancing climate ambition: Cities as partners in global climate action

Produced by SEI in support of the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and C40

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

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This briefing paper examines how cities can contribute to bridging the global emissions gap. It finds significant emission reduction potential – up to two-thirds the impact of recent national policies and actions. Specifically, the paper shows that urban actions could decrease global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 3.7 Gt CO2e below what national actions are currently on track to achieve in 2030, and by 8.0 Gt CO2e in 2050. Therefore, cities are positioned to make meaningful contributions towards more aggressive national targets to reduce emissions. This can be accomplished because mayors have strong influence over key policies that influence emissions, such as building energy standards, urban planning, and public transportation.
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Impact of the Keystone XL pipeline on global oil markets and greenhouse gas emissions

Nature Climate Change, 4, 778-781

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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