Edward A. (Ted) Parson

Edward A. (Ted) Parson

Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law; Faculty Co-Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment; Professor of Law and Public Policy


Ph.D. in Public Policy, Harvard University
M.Sc. in Management Science, University of British Columbia
B.Sc. in Physics, University College, University of Toronto

Areas of Interest:


(310) 206-4586



Office Location:

3456, UCLA School of Law

Note: Professor Parson is on sabbatical for the 2017-2018 academic year. 

Edward A. (Ted) Parson is Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Parson studies international environmental law and policy, the role of science and technology in policy-making, and the political economy of regulation.  His articles have appeared in Science, Nature, Climatic Change, Issues in Science and Technology, theJournal of Economic Literature, and the Annual Review of Energy and the Environment.  His most recent books are A Subtle Balance: Evidence, Expertise, and Democracy in Public Policy and Governance, 1970-2010 (McGill-Queens University Press, 2015), The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change (with Andrew Dessler) (2nd ed. Cambridge, 2010), and Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy (Oxford, 2003), which won the 2004 Sprout Award of the International Studies Association and is widely recognized as the authoritative account of the development of international cooperation to protect the ozone layer.

Parson has led and served on multiple advisory committees, for the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and other national and international bodies.  He was formerly Joseph L. Sax Collegiate Professor of Law, Professor of Natural Resources and Environment, and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and spent twelve years on the faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  In addition to his academic positions, Parson has worked and consulted for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, the Privy Council Office of the Government of Canada, the U.N. Environment Program, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).  He holds degrees in physics from the University of Toronto and in management science from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard.  In former lives, he was a professional classical musician and an organizer of grass-roots environmental groups.



A Subtle Balance: Evidence, Expertise, and Democracy in Policy and Governance, 1970-2010 (edited by E.A. Parson). McGill-Queens University Press (May 2015).

The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate (with A.E. Dessler). 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press (2010). The second edition of Dessler and Parson’s acclaimed book provides an integrated treatment of the science, technology, economics, policy, and politics of climate change. Aimed at the educated non-specialist, and at courses in environmental policy or climate change, the book clearly lays out the scientific foundations of climate change, the issues in current policy debates, and the interactions between science and politics that make the climate change debate so contentious and confusing. This new edition is brought completely up to date to reflect the rapid movement of events related to climate change. In addition, all sections have been improved, in particular a more thorough primer on the basic science of climate change is included. The book also now integrates the discussion of contrarian claims with the discussion of current scientific knowledge; extends the discussion of cost and benefit estimates; and provides an improved glossary. Order from Cambridge University Press | Order from Amazon.com

Global-Change Scenarios: Their Development and Use (with V. Burkett, K. Fisher-Vanden, D. Keith, L. Mearns, H. Pitcher, C. Rosenzweig, M. Webster). Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.1b, US Climate Change Science Program (2007). Final Report

Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy. Oxford University Press (2003). (Harold and Margaret Sprout Award, International Studies Assoc., 2004). Order from Oxford University Press | Order from Amazon

Governing the Environment: Persistent Challenges, Uncertain Innovations (edited by Edward A. Parson). University of Toronto Press (2001). (Also published in French translation as Gérer l’environnement, les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2001). Order from Univ. of Toronto Press | Order from Amazon

Climate Change Impacts on the United States. US Global Change Research Program, Cambridge University Press (2001). National Assessment Synthesis Team (member of collective author).  Two volumes: “Foundation” and “Overview.” Order “Foundation” from Cambridge University Press | Order “Overview” from Cambridge University Press | Order “Foundation” from Amazon | Order “Overview” from Amazon

Learning to Manage Global Environmental Risks: a Comparative History of Social Responses to Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, and Acid Rain (edited by W.C. Clark et al.). MIT Press (2001). Vols. 1 and 2. Social Learning Group (member of collective author). Order Vol. 1 from MIT Press | Order Vol. 2 from MIT Press | Order Vol. 1 on Amazon | Order Vol. 2 on Amazon

Articles, Chapters, and Reviews:

Climate Engineering in Global Climate Governance: Implications for Participation and Linkage, 3(01) Transnational Environmental Law 89-110 (2014). Full Text

Market Instruments for the Sustainability Transition (with Eric L. Kravitz), 38 Annual Review of Environment and Resources 415-40 (2013). Annual Review | Abstract

End the Deadlock on Governance of Geoengineering Research (with David W. Keith), 339 Science 1278-79 (March 15, 2013).

Climate Engineering Research, Issues in Science and Technology (Summer 2013). Forum Comment on Long and Scott.

International Governance of Climate Engineering (with Lia N. Ernst), 14 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 307 (2013). Full Text

Sequential Climate Change Policy (with D. Karwat), 2 Wiley Interdisciplinary Review: Climate Change 744-56 (2011). Wiley

Research on Global Sun Block Needed Now (with D.W. Keith and M. Granger Morgan), 463 Nature 426-27 (Jan. 28, 2010). Full Text

Ontario Electricity Policy: The Climate Challenge, in Chapter 2Current Affairs: Perspectives on Electricity Policy for Ontario (edited by D. Reeve, D. DeWees, and B. Karney, University of Toronto Press, 2009). Order from Univ. of Toronto Press

Useful Global Change Scenarios: Current Issues and Challenges, 3(4) Environmental Research Letters 045016 (Oct.-Dec. 2008). ERL | Full Text

Review Essay: The Big One, 74 Journal of Economic Literature 147-64 (2007).Reviewing Catastrophe: Risk and Response, by Richard Posner.  JEL | Full Text

Reflections on Air Capture: The Political Economy of Active Intervention in the Global Environment, 74 Climatic Change 1-11 (2006). Climate Change | Full Text

Grounds for Hope: The Assessment of Technological Options to Manage Ozone Depletion, in Assessments of Regional and Global Environmental Risks: Designing Processes for the Effective Use of Science in Decision-Making (edited by A. Farrell and J. Jäger, Resources for the Future Press, 2005). Order from Amazon | Full Text

Environmental Health Implications of Global Climate Change (with R. Watson, J. Patz, D. Gubler, and J.H. Vincent), 7 Journal of Environmental Monitoring 834-43 (Dec. 2005). JEM

Book Review, 37 Canadian Journal of Political Science 439-41 (2004). Reviewing Restoration of the Great Lakes: Promises, Practices, Performances, by M. Sproule-Jones.

Seeking Truth for Power: Information Strategy and Regulatory Policy-Making (with C. Coglianese and R. Zeckhauser), 89 Minnesota Law Review277-341 (2004). Via Hein Online (restricted) | Full Text

Collective Silence and Individual Voice: the Logic of Information Games (with R.J. Zeckhauser, and C. Coglianese), in Collective Choice: Essays in Honor of Mancur Olson 49-70 (edited by J. Heckelman and D. Coates, Springer-Verlag, 2003). Order from Amazon | Full Text

Climate and the Water, Forests, and Salmon of the Pacific Northwest (with E.A. Parson, P.W. Mote and ten other authors), 61 Climatic Change45-88 (Nov. 2003). Climatic Change

Understanding Climate Impacts, Vulnerabilities, and Adaptation in the United States: Building a Capacity for Assessment (with E.A Parson, R.W. Corell and ten other authors), 57 Climatic Change 9-42 (Mar. 2003). Climatic Change

The Technology Assessment Approach to Climate Change, 84 Issues in Science and Technology 65-72 (Summer 2002). Issues in S&T | Subsequent discussion forum, Fall 2002 | Full Text

Implementing the Climate Regime’s Clean Development Mechanism (with R.B. Mitchell), 10(2) Journal of Environment and Development 125-46 (June 2001). JED (Subscription required)

Environmental Trends: a Challenge to Canadian Governance, Chapter 1, in Governing the Environment: Persistent Challenges, Uncertain Innovations 3-29 (edited by Edward A. Parson, University of Toronto Press, 2001).

Persistent Challenges, Uncertain Innovations: A Synthesis, Chapter 9, in Governing the Environment: Persistent Challenges, Uncertain Innovations 345-80 (edited by Edward A. Parson, University of Toronto Press, 2001).

Leading While Keeping in Step: Canadian Management of Global Atmospheric Risks, Chapter 10 (with A.R. Dobell, A. Fenech, D. Munton, and H. Smith), in Learning to Manage Global Environmental Risks: a Comparative History of Social Responses to Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, and Acid Rain 235-57 (edited by W.C. Clark et al., MIT Press, ). Social Learning Group. Also secondary author on four other chapters in volume.

Socioeconomic Context for Climate Impact Assessment, Chapter 3 (E.A. Parson and M.G. Morgan, with A. Janetos, L. Joyce, B. Miller, R. Richels, and T. Wilbanks), in Climate Change Impacts on the United States. A Report of the National Assessment Synthesis Team, US Global Change Research Program93-107 (Cambridge University Press, 2001). PDF on USGCRP website

Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for the Pacific Northwest, Chapter 9 (with P.W. Mote, A. Hamlet, N. Mantua, A. Snover, W. Keeton, E. Miles, D. Canning, K.G. Ideker), in Climate Change Impacts on the United States. US Global Change Research Program 247-80 (Cambridge University Press, 2001). PDF on USGCRP website

Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for Alaska, Chapter 10 (with L. Carter, P. Anderson, B. Wang, and G. Weller), in Climate Change Impacts on the United States. US Global Change Research Program 283-312 (Cambridge University Press, 2001). PDF on USGCRP website

Environmental Trends and Environmental Governance in Canada, 26 Canadian Public Policy S123-S143 (Aug. 2000). Full Text

Joint Implementation of Greenhouse Gas Abatement Under the Kyoto Protocol’s “Clean Development Mechanism”: Its Scope and Limits (with K. Fisher-Vanden), 32 Policy Sciences 207-24 (Sep. 1999). Policy Sciences

The Montreal Protocol: The First Adaptive Global Environmental Regime?, in Protecting the Ozone Layer: Lessons, Models, and Prospects (edited by P.G. LePrestre, J.D. Reid, and E.T. Morehouse, Jr., Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998). Order from Amazon | Full Text

Games and Simulations (with D.W. Keith), in Human Choice and Climate Change (edited by S. Rayner and E. Malone, Battelle Press, 1998). Order from Amazon | Full Text

Fossil Fuels without CO2 Emissions (with D.W. Keith), Science 282 (5391)1053-54 (6 Nov. 1998). Science | Full Text

Informing Global Environmental Policy-making: A Plea for New Methods of Assessment and Synthesis, 2(4) Environmental Modeling and Assessment 267-79 (1998). EMA

Integrated Assessment Models of Global Climate Change (with K. Fisher-Vanden), 22 Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 589-628 (1997). Annual Review

International Environmental Negotiations: The Current State of Empirical and Analytical Study, 13 Negotiation Journal 161-83 (April 1997). Full Text

International Protection of the Ozone Layer, in Green Globe Yearbook: 1996(edited by H.O. Bergeson and G. Parmann, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Oxford University Press, 1996). Order from Amazon

What Can You Learn From a Game?, in Wise Choices: Games, Decisions, and Negotiations (edited by R. Zeckhauser, R. Keeney, and J. Sebenius, Harvard Business School Press, 1996). Order from Amazon | Full Text

Three Dilemmas in the Integrated Assessment of Climate Change, 34 Climatic Change 315-26 (1996). Climatic Change

Integrated Assessment and Environmental Policy-Making: In Pursuit of Usefulness, 23 Energy Policy 463-75 (1995). Energy Policy | Full Text

Sustainable Development as Social Learning: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Challenges for the Design of a Research Program (with W.C. Clark), in Barriers and Bridges to the Renewal of Ecosystems and Institutions428-60 (edited by L. Gunderson, C.S. Holling, and S. Light, Columbia University Press, 1995). Order from Amazon | Full Text

Cooperation in the Unbalanced Commons (with R. Zeckhauser), in Barriers to the Conflict Resolution 212-34 (edited by K. Arrow, R. Mnookin, L. Ross, A. Tversky and R. Wilson, Norton, 1995). Order from Amazon | Full Text

Equal Measures or Fair Burdens: Negotiating Environmental Treaties in an Unequal World (with R. Zeckhauser), in Shaping National Responses to Climate Change 81-114 (edited by H. Lee, Island Press, 1995). Order from Amazon

Von dem Peripherie ins Zentrum der Aussen politik? Die internationale Umweltpolitik, in Amerikanische Weltpolitik nach dem Ost-West-Konflikt(edited by M. Dembinski, P. Rudolf, and J. Wilzewsk, Nomos Verlag, 1994).

Protecting the Ozone Layer, in Institutions for the Earth (edited by P.M. Haas, R.O. Keohane, and M.A. Levy, MIT Press, 1993). Order from Amazon

Assessing UNCED and the State of Sustainable Development, Proceedings of the American Society of International Law 508-13 (1993). Full Text

Policy-advisory and Popular Articles:

Policy Brief, Climate Change: Less focus on collective action, more on delayed benefits and concentrated opponents.  Policy Brief, Centre for International Governance Innovation. April 2015. Paper

Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from Transport: the performance and promise of California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (with Jesse Lueders and Sean Hecht). Emmett Institue, UCLA Law, May 22, 2015. Paper

Fiscal and Regulatory Approaches to Limiting Greenhouse Gases, Briefing to Meeting on Breaking the Climate Change Deadlock, Paris, March 2008.

Synthesis Report, Launch Workshop, The 3E Initiative. Report of first meeting, Merrickville Ontario. 1-3 Nov. 2007.

Report of Planning Meeting, Canada Low-Carbon Project, Calgary, July 16, 2007.

How to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Guide for Policy-makers in Canada and Elsewhere. Part 1: National Policies; Part 2: Internation Action. Briefing Note for Planning Meeting, Canada Low-Carbon Project. May 24, 2007.

An L-14 Leadership Initiative Within the UN Climate-change Process, Briefing Note Prepared for Side event at Clinton Global Initiative, May 11, 2007.

Moving Beyond the Kyoto Impasse, New York Times A23 (July 31, 2001). Opinion

A Breakthrough in Climate-Change Policy? (with D. W. Keit), Scientific American 78-79 (Feb. 2000).

International Ozone Agreements: Response to Comments by Ian Rowlands (with O. Greene), 37(3) Environment 3 (April 1995).

The Complex Chemistry of the International Ozone Agreements (with O. Greene), 37(2) Environment 16 (March 1995).

Appraising the Earth Summit (with P. Haas and M. Levy), 34(8) Environment (Oct. 1992).

A Summary of the Major Documents signed at the Earth Summit and Global Forum (with P. Haas and M. Levy), 34(8) Environment (Oct. 1992).

A World Atmosphere Fund (with A.R. Dobell), Policy Options (Nov. 1988).

Technical Reports and Writing Papers:

Moratoria for Global Governance and Contested Technology: The Case of Climate Engineering (with Megan Herzog), UCLA School of Law, Public Law & Legal Theory Working Paper Series No. 16-17 (2016). Full Text

The International Policy Environment for Carbon Capture and Sequestration, Report to National Energy Technology Laboratory, US DOE, April 2003.

Implementing Joint Implementation: Developing a Management and Performance System for the Kyoto Protocol’s “Clean Development Mechanism” (with R.B. Mitchell), ENRP Discussion Paper E-98-06. Harvard University (June, 1998).

Explaining the Form of Assessments: Why do we get the assessments we do? (with S. Agrawala, A. Patt, R. Keohane, R. Mitchell, L. Botcheva, W. Clark, E. DeSombre, J. McCarthy, and E. Shea), ENRP Discussion Paper E-97-12. Harvard University (1997).

Global Environmental Assessment (with W.C. Clark and N. Dickson),ENRP Discussion Paper E-97-15. Harvard University (1997).

Joint Implementation and its Alternatives: Choosing Systems to Distribute Mitigation and Finance (with K. Fisher-Vanden), ENRP Discussion Paper E-97-03. Harvard University (1977).

A Global Climate Change Policy Exercise: Results of a Test Run, July 27-29 1999, Working Paper WP-96-90.International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria (August 1996).

Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Models of Global Climate Change Socio-economic Data and Analysis Center, NASA Mission to Planet Earth, 1966.

Climate Treaties and Models, Background Study, Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress, Washington DC, June 1994.

Negotiating Climate Cooperation: Learning from Theory, Simulations, and History.Harvard University (May 1992). Doctoral dissertation in Public Policy.

The Transport Sector and Global Warming, Disc. Paper G-90-07, Harvard Global Environmental Policy Project. (Appeared in abridged form as the transport sector chapter in Changing by Degrees, OTA’s Feb. 1991 Report on Global Climate Change)

Midwest-Northeast Transmission: A Partial Solution to Acid Rain? Discussion Paper E-88-05, Energy and Environment Policy Center, Harvard University.