Daniel Sperling

  • Founding Director, ITS-Davis
  • Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Professor, Environmental Science and Policy
  • Faculty Director, Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy
Contact
Sperling, Daniel

Research Interests

  • Transportation technology assessment
  • Energy and environmental aspects of transportation
  • Transportation policy

Biography

Dr. Daniel Sperling is Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy, and founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (ITS-Davis). The Institute has over 150 faculty, staff and student researchers. He has led ITS-Davis to international prominence by building strong partnerships with industry, government, and the environmental community, integrating interdisciplinary research and education programs, and connecting research with public outreach and education. In June 2013, he was named a recipient of the Blue Planet Prize from the Asahi Glass Foundation. The prize has been described as the Nobel Prize for the environmental sciences. He was recognized for his unique ability to bring together the top thinkers and strategists in academia, government and industry to develop new vehicle- and fuels-policy approaches that are models for the world. In February 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed him to the “automotive engineering” seat on the California Air Resources Board. His appointment was confirmed by the California Senate in January 2008. His chief responsibilities are oversight and design of the state’s climate change, alternatives fuels, vehicle travel and land use, and zero emission vehicle programs. He also served as co-director of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard study, requested in the Governor’s January 2007 Executive Order. In 2008 he was appointed chair of the “Future of Mobility” Council of the Davos World Economic Forum. ITS-Davis won the 2006 Robert M. Zweig Public Education Award of the National Hydrogen Association, 2005 TRANNY award for Organization of the Year by the California Transportation Foundation, 1998 Employer of the Year Award of the Women’s Transportation Seminar of Sacramento, and was selected as a finalist for the 2003 World Technology Energy Award. He is recognized as a leading international expert on transportation technology assessment, energy and environmental aspects of transportation, and transportation policy. He has testified 10 times to the US Congress and state legislatures, and provided keynote presentations and invited talks in recent years at international conferences in Asia, Europe, and North America. In the past 25 years, he has authored or co-authored over 200 technical papers and 11 books, including Two Billion Cars (Oxford University Press, 2009). He has made 500 professional presentations in his career, including many keynote talks in the past few years. Sperling is an international expert on transportation technology, fuels and policy, with a focus on energy and environment. His research is directed at accelerating the global transition to cleaner, more efficient transportation and energy, and mitigating climate change. The award recognizes Sperling for his unique ability to bring together the top thinkers and strategists in academia, government and industry to develop new vehicle- and fuels-policy approaches that are models for the world. He was lead author of the transportation chapter in the 2007 IPCC report, “Mitigation of Climate Change” (IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008) and a member of 13 National Academies committees on Energy Efficiency, Gasoline Taxes, Hydrogen, Transport in China, Biomass Fuels R&D, Sustainable Transportation, and related topics. He was founding chair of standing committees for the U.S. Transportation Research Board on Alternative Transportation Fuels (1989-’96), and Sustainability and Transportation (2006-08). He is the founding organizer of the premier conference on transportation and energy policy, bringing together every two years since 1988 the leaders from industry, government, academia, and the environmental community. He serves on many advisory committees and advises senior executives of many automotive and energy companies, environmental groups, and national governments, including review committees at three DOE national laboratories. He is widely cited in leading newspapers, has been interviewed many times on NPR radio, including Science Friday, Talk of the Nation and Fresh Air, and in 2009 he was featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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Dr. Daniel Sperling is Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy, and founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (ITS-Davis). The Institute has over 150 faculty, staff and student researchers. He has led ITS-Davis to international prominence by building strong partnerships with industry, government, and the environmental community, integrating interdisciplinary research and education programs, and connecting research with public outreach and education. In June 2013, he was named a recipient of the Blue Planet Prize from the Asahi Glass Foundation. The ...

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June 19, 2015

Dr. Daniel Sperling is the founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis. As he explained in an email to The Fuse, finding where to fit the Hyperloop within our current transportation infrastructure is still a major unresolved question. “There are lots of great ideas. But superimposing them on the well-established car and road-based system of today and with today’s sprawled land development is very challenging in many ways,” Dr. Sperling explained. “We have an incredibly inefficient, resource-intensive, expensive transportation system. If I were king…or could start with a clean slate, I would create a dramatically cheaper, [more] efficient…system.”

May 30, 2015

Daniel Sperling, a University of California-Davis professor and a member of the Air Resources Board, is pushing hard for a bigger emphasis on plug-in hybrids, though some of his colleagues on the board think any solution that involves using gasoline is inadequate. Sperling argued at the May hearing that hybrids with large batteries could run on electricity 80 to 90 percent of the time, while using gasoline for long road trips only. If they're also more palatable to car buyers, he said, they actually could reduce California's air pollution faster than pure EVs. "The goal should be to strengthen the ZEV program," he added. "I agree that we can get more vehicles out there, but they might not be the vehicles we thought they would be a few years ago."

April 29, 2015

California Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order that calls for California to reduce carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. That exceeds the current goal of reaching 1990 emission levels by 2020. "China is making lots of investments in renewable energy and low-carbon," said Daniel Sperling, the director of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. "They’re implementing cap and trade programs. So they are doing a lot. Europe is doing a lot. Japan’s doing a lot. Korea’s doing a lot," he says. "But what California is doing is being a leader for the US and for the world."

Read and listen to the report here.

April 16, 2015

Daniel Sperling is a busy man. He is a professor of civil engineering and environmental science and policy, and founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, as well as interim director of the UCD Energy Institute. He also serves as the “car guy” on the California Air Resources Board, and this year, he’s chairing the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies in Washington, D.C. Sperling is leading the way to an environmentally sustainable transportation technology. When asked “What are we waiting for?” he answers, “The revolution is underway but not evolving in a predictable way — in large part because it depends on consumers and policy.”

March 31, 2015

The price of Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits is going to rise. It’s just a question of when. That’s the view of Professor Daniel Sperling, member of the California Air Resources Board, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, but more importantly, the intellectual father of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Sperling noted that the required cut in the carbon intensity of California transportation fuels this year — and last year — was a mere 1% from a 2010 baseline. But that isn’t going to last, with CARB expected this summer to vote on a package of amendments that will tighten those requirements. “Next year it’s 2 percent, then 3.5%, then 5%, then 7.5% and then 10%,” he said. “It’s all backloaded. So looking at the market now doesn’t tell you much except that meeting 1 percent is easy.” He added: “As an academic, I will say it seems pretty likely the price is going to go up as we get to five and then 7.5 percent, and the market will get tighter. It’s just economics 101.”