Senator John Heinz

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The Heinz Awards

2010

Daniel Sperling

Dr. Daniel Sperling is being honored for his achievements in the research of alternative transportation fuels and his responsibility for the adoption of cleaner transportation policies in California and across the United States.

Dr. Sperling founded the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, in 1991 where, over the next 19 years, he would develop the ideas that have helped California become a leader in the development of environmentally friendly transportation systems. His research has not only focused on vehicle technology and the fuels that power them, but also on the people who use them and the environment itself that must accommodate it all.

He was instrumental in creating the groundbreaking Low Carbon Fuel Standard in California. It is the first major regulation built on the concept of measuring greenhouse gases over a product or fuel's life cycle, from production to end use. Specifically, this requires oil refiners to reduce the carbon intensity of the fuels they sell, or buy credits from those that do. Similar policies are under consideration in 11 other states, as well as in Canada and Europe. Dr. Sperling now co-heads a national research team, funded by foundations, to create a similar template for a national low carbon fuel policy.

Daniel Sperling is a top researcher and visionary leader who has designed and implemented leading solutions to help create a more sustainable transportation system, which he outlined in the book he co-authored, Two Billion Cars. Not only has he created the successful policies and guided the policymakers, but he has also helped to build the institutions and research centers and invested in the people who can ensure that these changes are both lasting and effective.

Dr. Sperling will undoubtedly have a profound effect on transportation policies for years to come as he pursues his vision to meet today's transportation needs matched with the environmental concerns of the future.

Note: This profile is excerpted from the commemorative brochure published at the time of the awards' presentation.


UPDATES SINCE RECEIVING THE AWARD

June 2013 - Daniel Sperling received the Blue Planet Prize from the Asahi Glass Foundation, for devoting his career to mitigating climate change and accelerating the global transition to cleaner, more efficient transportation and energy. - Los Angeles Times

Speech

11/15/2010 - Acceptance Speech

This is really awesome.  And it's humbling also.  Thank you, Teresa.  I am so honored and I really feel so fortunate.  I am honored to follow in the footsteps of so many great leaders who received this award before me, including several I have known and been inspired by: Paul MacCready, Ralph Cavanaugh and John Holdren, who's here today.  I'm especially honored to be part of this amazing group of 10, who have dedicated their careers to the challenge of global change and climate change - arguably the greatest challenge, the greatest threat facing humanity.  
 
I want to thank the Heinz Family Foundation for dedicating this year's awards to global change.  It couldn't come at a better time.  It brings renewed attention to this great challenge.  A side benefit, I hope, will be to encourage more academics to become involved in bringing science to policy.
 
I want to thank the University of California, especially my campus, UC Davis, for providing me with so many opportunities and for supporting me in so many ways.  And in many ways this award really should be going to my outstanding students and colleagues at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, and to my staff, especially Joe Krovoza and Ernie Hoftyzer.  I am eternally grateful to all of them.
 
I thank Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, for being a mentor and a model for me as I learn how to become more effective at influencing policy.  And I thank Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his climate policy leadership and especially for championing the low carbon fuel standard.
 
I thank my family, especially my mom, who's always impressed with whatever I do.  And my daughter, who's also proud of me, although I have to confess, it wasn't until I appeared on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show.  And last, I am thankful and appreciative of my loving partner Sandy for encouraging and supporting me as I take on these new adventures.

Thank you.

Daniel Sperling
Daniel Sperling