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

Image

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.
More information
Download PDF


Image

Potential for International Offsets to Provide a Net Decrease of GHG Emissions

SEI policy brief

Author(s): Lazarus, M. ; Erickson, P. ; Kollmuss, A. ; Schneider, L.
Year: 2013

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

Description: This policy brief explores what it means to achieve a net decrease of emissions through offsets, as the Parties to the UNFCCC have suggested; how it might be achieved, and what it might deliver. Several crucial questions still need to be answered, starting with what constitutes a "net decrease": From the perspective of an offset instrument or individual offset activity, surplus reductions can be achieved if actual emission reductions exceed the offset credits issued or used. From the perspective of global GHG emissions, however, emissions would also have to be reduced beyond what countries have already pledged, leading to a net atmospheric benefit. The analysis also shows that achieving a net decrease in global GHG emissions requires an ability to do all of the following: generate offsets for which additionality is relatively certain; produce more GHG abatement than is credited (surplus reductions); avoid double-counting of emission reductions; and ensure that surplus reductions do not count towards the host country's mitigation pledge.
More information
Download PDF


Image

Accounting for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with the Supply of Fossil Fuels

SEI Discussion Brief

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

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This discussion brief explores how an extraction-based emissions accounting tracks and accounts for the emissions associated with fossil fuels as they are brought into the world economy, and the implications of taking such an approach. Current climate policies and accounting frameworks for climate change mitigation focus largely on the demand, or use, side of the fossil fuel equation. GHG emissions inventories quantify the emissions associated with fossil fuel use by each country or entity. Climate policies such as emissions trading systems or emissions standards tend to regulate or price GHG emissions at the point of fossil fuel combustion (e.g. power plants or industrial facilities) or distribution (oil and gas supply). This demand-side focus leads to a conundrum: countries (and individual entities) can increase fossil fuel supply and infrastructure, potentially locking-in substantial future emissions, with often little effect on their own emissions accounts. Complementary analytical frameworks that better account for the GHG implications of existing and new fossil fuel supplies could help to address this conundrum.
More information
Download PDF


Image

Assessing the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

SEI Discussion Brief

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

Research Area(s): Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: Global demand for energy continues to grow, with corresponding impacts on fossil fuels use, greenhouse gas emissions, and the global climate system. Policy-makers in several countries have designed and introduced policies to limit demand for fossil fuels, but at the same time, new infrastructure investments – among them coal mine expansions, new coal and gas export terminals, and major oil sands and heavy oil extraction facilities – are poised to significantly increase the supply of fossil fuels. The potential implications of these supply investments for global GHG emissions have become an increasingly pivotal factor for decision-makers and the public. This discussion brief provides an overview of the approaches used to date to quantify those emissions, and their findings, and makes suggestions for further work.
More information
Download PDF


Image

Potential for International Offsets to Provide a Net Decrease of GHG Emissions

SEI Working Paper No. 2013-06

Author(s): Lazarus, M. ; Erickson, P. ; Kollmuss, A. ; Schneider, L.
Year: 2013

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

Description: This paper explores how new market mechanisms could "achieve a net decrease and/or avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions", as envisioned by the Parties at COP 17 in Durban. The authors explore what a net decrease might mean in practice, how it might be achieved, and the potential scale of the net atmospheric benefit that could be attained in 2020. They find that achieving a net decrease in global GHG emissions hinges on: a) the ability to generate offset units for which additionality is relatively certain; b) measures (such as shortened crediting periods or pre-issuance discounts) that lead to more GHG abatement than credited, i.e. surplus reductions; and c) a means to account for any surplus reduction in a way that it does not simply contribute to meeting an existing GHG reduction pledge.
More information
Download PDF