WWU’s Troy Abel to lead NSF-funded climate governance study

Western Washington University Associate Professor of Environmental Policy Troy D. Abel and his research team have been awarded a $545,000 National Science Foundation grant that will allow him to lead the team in a three-year study on state and local climate-risk governance.

“While a lot of media attention in July focused on the the Obama administration's proposed greenhouse gas regulations for power-plant emissions, hundreds of governmental agencies and thousands of facilities have already been working to reduce their climate footprint. Our research brings much needed attention to these efforts and whether or not they are working. ” said Abel.

“The states are pivotal players in the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s plan. State governments have a lot of discretion in how they pursue greenhouse-gas emissions reductions, but until the proposed regulations were announced, state and local governments and facilities have had complete discretion. Our study can help assess the effectiveness of state and local efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions before and after the federal government took significant actions,” he said.

Abel’s team includes Dorothy Daley, with the School of Public Affairs and Administration Administration (and Environmental Studies Program) at the University of Kansas (KU); Mark Stephan, associate professor of Political Science at Washington State University/Vancouver, and staff from the Environmental Council of the States based in Washington, D.C. The award across the three institutions will fund research time for the professors, a master’s student at WWU, and several doctoral students at KU.

The research team will present results from their initial analysis on Aug. 29 at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. After analyzing the greenhouse-gas emissions from more than 7,000 facilities in nine different sectors (power plants, refineries, etc.), the preliminary results were encouraging and suggest that even when controlling for past emission levels, subnational climate risk governance is associated with better facility-level greenhouse gas reductions.

Abel helped launch a new Business and Sustainability degree at Western and was recently appointed the director of Huxley College of the Environment’s Peninsula program located at Western Washington University Center at Olympic College, Poulsbo.

“I’m excited to bring the kind of nationally recognized environmental research program that Western’s Huxley College of the Environment is known for to our students and communities on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas,” Abel said.

For more information, contact Troy Abel at troy.abel@wwu.edu or at 360-394-2741.