Center for Law, Energy & the Environment

The Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) channels the expertise of the Berkeley Law community – faculty, staff, and students – into pragmatic, creative policy solutions to critical environmental and energy challenges.




The past year has starkly highlighted the systemic racism and racial injustice interwoven into the fabric of this country. We must not only condemn it; we must act to change it.

The university has a public interest mission; the legal profession is responsible for seeking justice; and our center and our program are focused on ensuring a sustainable world for all. Working at the intersection of those values, we must humbly look inside and examine if we are doing all we can to combat systemic racism, because the answer is almost certainly no. Yet we cannot successfully combat climate change and environmental degradation without addressing the inextricably linked roots and consequences of systemic racial injustice.

Because words without actions ring hollow, we are engaging in a process to develop a concrete action plan addressing our research, program, and curriculum. We will reach outside our organization for diverse input in order to finalize our action plan and move immediately to implementation.

November 2022
Cars, buses, and trucks produce approximately one-fifth of global greenhouse gas Deploying Zero Emissions report cover emissions.  Although global sales of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) for passenger cars have increased an average of 50 percent per year since 2015, consumers need confidence in reliable, accessible, and affordable charging and refueling infrastructure. Deploying innovative demonstration projects and developing supportive policies will be crucial to achieving a successful ZEV transition worldwide.
CLEE and TDA developed a brief to highlight case studies of successful electric vehi­cle charging infrastructure deployment around the world. These jurisdictions are charting the way on developing comprehensive planning and regulatory frameworks that support ZEV adoption and infrastructure. The brief highlights innovative models and partnerships that are increasing ZEV fleet adoption, public and private charging deployment, and public aware­ness of the reduced total cost of ownership of driving ZEVs. The case studies capture work happening in: California (United States), Rotterdam (Netherlands), British Columbia (Canada), Portugal, Costa Rica, and Ghana.

November 2022

Funding San Francisco Climate Action 

In December 2021, San Francisco issued a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that envisions anFunding San Francisco Climate Action report cover ambitious and equitable climate future for the city. The CAP details emissions reduction strategies across six categories: energy supply, building decarbonization, transportation and land use, housing, green infrastructure, and waste reduction. The CAP puts forth 159 actions to achieve net-zero emissions citywide by 2040 while rooting decisions in racial and social equity, economic opportunity, public health, and community resilience.

These actions range from investing in active transportation infrastructure and increasing affordable housing near transit to decarbonizing buildings and supporting green construction apprenticeship programs, with the potential to solidify San Francisco as an innovative and ambitious climate leader while reducing citywide emissions substantially.

October 2022

Clean Takeoff: Policy Options for Sustainable Aviation in California

What actions can California policy makers take to help decarbonize the state aviation sector? CLEE’sReport cover showing airplanes at an airport and Clean Takeoff title new report, Clean Takeoff: Policy Solutions to Promote Sustainable Aviation in California, describes opportunities to advance sustainable aviation in California.

Airplane travel is responsible for more than 2 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, with non-CO₂ emissions raising the total climate impact further. While no existing zero-emission technologies can power all flights today, sustainable aviation fuel represents the most promising immediate solution to reduce emissions from aviation and will remain key to decarbonizing long-haul aviation, even in 2050. 

In response, Governor Newsom called for a 20 percent clean fuels target for the aviation sector in July 2022, and the steps described in Clean Takeoff could help the state achieve those goals while maximizing air quality and economic co-benefits in communities near airports and production facilities.

September 2022

Ahead of the Herd: Policy Solutions to Accelerate Livestock Methane Emissions Reduction in California

To achieve state goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030Ahead of the Herd report cover and carbon neutrality by 2045, California leaders have initiated an ambitious suite of programs to address methane, a climate super-pollutant. Leaders have focused on emissions from livestock, which generate over half of California’s methane – primarily in the state’s dairy sector, the largest in the nation. The state’s dairy and livestock methane programs have made gains in curbing manure emissions, but a need for significant acceleration in both enteric and manure emissions to achieve the 2030 target set by Senate Bill 1383. 
To address these challenges, CLEE and UCLA Law convened state agency, industry, academic, and environmental justice leaders for a discussion of strategies to accelerate livestock methane emission reduction in California while addressing public and environmental health concerns.

August 2022

Implementing SB 743: Design Considerations for Vehicle Miles Traveled Mitigation Bank and Exhange Programs

The California Environmental Quality Act requires government agencies and dReport cover. Title Implementing SB 743 and image of freeways in urban landscape.evelopers to mitigate the environmental impacts of new discretionary projects, including impacts to transportation. Under new state law and guidelines, many agencies are using VMT, which focuses on total vehicle trip-miles generated by a new project regardless of where they occur or how much traffic they cause, as the new measurement of impact. Mitigating VMT impacts of new projects creates the opportunity—and potentially the need—to conduct mitigation at locations other than the development site. To carry it out, CLEE and others have proposed “bank” and “exchange” programs to manage these capacities. Our new report advances these proposals with a set of recommendations for state agencies like Caltrans and local governments to develop bank and exchange programs that build on their existing environmental mitigation efforts.

July 2022

Hot, Cold and Clean report cover

Hot, Cold & Clean: Policy Solutions to Promote Equitable and Affordable Adoption of Heat Pump Retrofits in Existing Buildings

In 2022, the California Energy Commission set out an ambitious target of deploying 6 million heat pumps by 2030. With more than 14 million existing residential homes in the state, more than 75 percent of California’s existing buildings built before 1978, and heat pumps installed in only 6 percent of new construction, the state has a long way to go to meet its goals.

To address this challenge, CLEE and UCLA Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment convened state, local, utility, housing and environmental leaders to develop priority solutions for promoting equitable and affordable adoption of heat pump retrofits in existing buildings.

May 2022

Driving EquityDriving Equity report cover

To achieve state goals of 40 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction (below 1990 levels) by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2045, California must significantly reduce emissions from transportation, which is the single greatest source of statewide (and national) emissions. In 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order calling for a complete phase-out of new fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2035, and in April 2022 the California Air Resources Board proposed an update to its Advanced Clean Cars regulation to achieve that target. However, the majority of electric vehicle models on the road are new, relatively high-cost models and the most ubiquitous and convenient charging options are in the garages of single-family homes in wealthier communities. Our new policy report outlines strategies to promote equity in California’s electric vehicle transition.

May 2022

Branching Out

Branching Out report cover

In response to California’s deadly over the past several years, government and private landowners are removing more debris and residual material from forested areas, such as removing dead trees and creating fire breaks. One strategy to improve vegetation management outcomes is to support markets for this residual material through wood products, chips and mulch, or other end uses. To do so, state and local leaders will need to weigh the consequences of various end uses to ensure human and environmental health factors into decision making and to ensure debris removal does not promote additional cutting of “green” forest material, among other considerations. Our new policy report recommends various pathways for establishing a sustainable market for this material while observing parameters on the source and timeframe of the material collection to ensure activities promote wildfire resilience.

Developing Climate Risk Policy for State Procurement and Bond Issuance report coverOctober 2021

Developing Climate Risk Policy for State Procurement and Bond Issuance

California is home to one of the largest economies in the world, and the state plays a direct role in this economy as a steward of assets, a regulator, a revenue generator and service provider, and a direct spender of funds on a range of infrastructure, goods, and services. In light of the risks that climate change poses to state industries and financial institutions, state lawmakers and experts have recently sought to increase knowledge of climate-related risks throughout the state economy. In two new policy notes, CLEE explores potential opportunities to develop climate risk disclosure policy through the lens of state procurement and bond issuance.

Recent Publications