The next decade will be pivotal for climate action. Prof. Edwards will discuss new modeling and measurement approaches to address the climate impacts of natural gas systems in an increasingly decentralized policy landscape. Her presentation weaves together several related projects at the Climate Action Lab. The first project quantifies global emissions from existing and proposed natural gas plants and uses systems modeling to identify location-specific retirement strategies to meet climate goals. The second project combines utility-reported data, on the ground measurements, community interviews, and document and legal analysis to assess efforts to reduce methane emissions from local distribution systems in Massachusetts, where pipelines are particularly leak-prone. The third project evaluates disparities in the adoption of heat pumps across the U.S. and implications for policies promoting electrification in the buildings sector. By combining multiple lines of evidence, this work triangulates insights for science-based policies to reduce near- and long-term impacts of natural gas use.
Morgan Edwards is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. Her research and teaching focus on just energy responses to the climate crisis across policymaking scales. She draws on mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, combining large datasets and community knowledge with systems modeling, to assess and track the multi-dimensional impacts of energy systems. Current projects focus on monitoring and phaseout of natural gas use in electricity and buildings, modeling the impacts of carbon dioxide removal technologies, and applications of satellite Earth observations to sustainable energy planning and policy. Professor Edwards received her Ph.D. in Engineering Systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), her S.M. in Technology and Policy from MIT, and her B.S. in Environmental Science and Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to Madison, she was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland.