Welcoming Steve Davis to lead climate science

Steve Davis, Head of Climate Science at Watershed
Steve Davis
Steve DavisHead of Climate Science at Watershed

Steve Davis is a professor of earth system science at UC Irvine, a highly-cited scientist, contributing author of the energy systems chapter of the latest IPCC assessment report (AR6), lead author of the mitigation chapter of the forthcoming National Climate Assessment (NCA5), member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Carbon Project, and co-lead of the Carbon Monitor initiative. Today, he's pivoting to join Watershed full time—here's why, and his thoughts on how businesses are critical to solving climate change.

I love being a professor. In particular, I treasure the freedom to generate new knowledge on topics that I think are important. And for more than a decade, that’s meant, together with students, postdocs, and collaborators, publishing dozens of papers detailing the sources of carbon emissions and how we can reduce them. But not infrequently after delivering a talk on our latest work, I get a question that I can’t answer: has our research had any effect on public policy or decision making?

Of course I hope our work has influenced the thinking of decision makers, and there have been a handful of times I know it has—but more often than not the impact outside academia isn’t clear. It’s because I want to have a better answer to that question that I’m taking a break from professor-ing to work at Watershed.

Why the private sector? I have many fantastic academic colleagues who’ve joined environmental non-profits or spent time in government, and there’s no question that policy, advocacy, and activism all have important roles to play in reaching our climate goals. But in my view, the quickest and most reliable way to break through the political and social barriers that stand between humanity and a stable climate is to harness the power of business. When reducing carbon emissions is good for business, favorable public policies and social acceptance are likely to follow.

But the growing number of businesses aiming to cut their emissions urgently need guidance. It’s not easy to produce a detailed and reliable inventory of emissions related to a company’s activities, assets, and supply chains, or to assess and prioritize among proliferating mitigation options. Moreover, the science of greenhouse gas accounting is still evolving, and companies often have different and multiple sustainability-related goals to balance. Ensuring and maximizing the real-world impact of companies’ efforts will require translating and applying the best and latest science, and that’s where Watershed and our growing team of scientists come in.

This is my first week at Watershed as Head of Climate Science, and my first time working outside of academia in almost 20 years. I’m sure I have a lot to learn, but I’m just as sure that closing the gaps between science and business will be critical for companies that want to change not only their businesses but the world for the better.

We’re hiring! Browse open roles or drop me a line.

Stay up to date

Get the latest from Watershed, from policy updates to in-depth climate guides.


an image of the CSRD experts who spoke at Watershed's webinar

Tactical advice on the CSRD

Photo of UK flag on the left and TPT logo on the right

TPT: Everything you need to know about the UK Transition Plan Taskforce

Illustration of coins in a field

SEC ESG fund rules: Everything you need to know

Customer stories

coyuchi product

How Coyuchi gets product-level carbon insights from Watershed

houses next to solar panels

How Aon automated its carbon footprint measurement

kroll and watershed and cdp logos

Kroll on using Watershed to save time reporting to CDP

Climate news

Natural imagery with the CSRD logo

EU Commission adopts the finalized ESRS under the CSRD

blog header image showing five new solar plants in Michigan partially funded by Block, Braze, DoorDash, Match Group, and Unity

Fixed-price Virtual Power Purchase Agreement funds five new Michigan solar plants

Watershed HQ

Sylvie Goulard, a new member of Watershed's Policy Advisory Board

Welcoming Sylvie Goulard to our Policy Advisory Board

Climate curve with text "Series C"

$100M for climate

2023 with a world for the 0

Watershed's 2023 year in review


Illustration of coins in a field

SEC ESG fund rules: Everything you need to know

the California capitol where SB253 and SB261 were passed

California SB 253 and SB 261: a guide for companies

Welcoming Mary Schapiro to the Watershed Policy Advisory Board

Welcoming Mary Schapiro to our Policy Advisory Board


watershed and latham and watkins law firm logos next to an image of the SEC

How to prepare for mandatory climate disclosure - advice from Betty M. Huber of Latham & Watkins

ropes and grey logo with the California flag, watershed logo and text: Guide

Michael Littenberg of Ropes & Gray on California’s SB 253 and 261

EU Flag plus Covington logo

What is the EU's Green Claims Directive? Full Guide with Covington experts