Environment

Simulating shared mobility in Helsinki

New types of ride-sharing services offered by companies like Uber, Lyft and Cabify have been gaining ground in recent years, especially in urban areas. The conflation of technology, both within and outside of the transport sector, with evolving societal trends around the production and consumption of services has been faster than anticipated by many authorities and has outpaced the […]

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    Low-carbon services can enhance the UK’s economic prospects

Low-carbon services can enhance the UK’s economic prospects

The government’s post-Brexit customs proposals, published on 15 August, recognised that one of the biggest opportunities for the UK is in trade in services. The second largest exporter of services worldwide, with services accounting for 45 per cent of the country’s exports in 2016, the UK already has a head start on its competitors. Last month Liam Fox, UK Minister for […]

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    Lessons from Paris 2015: In multilateral negotiations, process is key

Lessons from Paris 2015: In multilateral negotiations, process is key

Recent attempts to advance international cooperation have shown the importance of a very well managed negotiation process. While the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen ended without official agreement in 2009, they got back on track one year later in Cancún and reached a global deal in Paris in 2015. The largest summit ever at that time, with 120 […]

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    What’s holding back investment and innovation in renewable energy?

What’s holding back investment and innovation in renewable energy?

Renewable-energy technologies are critically important, both in addressing the risks of climate change and achieving Sustainable Development Goal number 7 (SDG7,) relative to affordable and clean energy. They have also become increasingly cost-competitive: the capital cost of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) energy has fallen by more than 60 per cent since 2010, and that of onshore wind energy by […]

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    US cities’ buy-green schemes reduce their environmental liabilities and costs

US cities’ buy-green schemes reduce their environmental liabilities and costs

As the U.S. federal government pulls back from policies and agreements that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, local governments are poised to pick up the slack. More than 270 U.S. mayors have affirmed their continued commitment to reducing GHG emissions following the Trump administration’s recent withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

How can local governments work to further […]

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    Some tech devices try but fail to make us minimize our carbon footprint

Some tech devices try but fail to make us minimize our carbon footprint

For a couple of weeks now, I am the proud owner of a wireless wrist device that tracks my physical activity, heart rate and sleep. It gives me real-time feedback and nudges me towards a healthier behaviour. Along with the device comes an app that allows me to monitor my weight, calorie- and water intake. The app further provides a […]

You broke the planet, you pay for it

The general public is more likely to accept new climate policies if the ‘polluter pays’ principle is implemented and if assurances are given that convince them that the policies will be implemented both domestically and internationally. Our study examines the public acceptability of various climate mitigation policies in three countries (the UK, the Czech Republic and Poland) based on […]

Financing the transition to low carbon economies

Over the last decade a series of multilateral agreements on climate change in Copenhagen (2009), Paris (2016), and Marrakesh (2016) has established a global consensus on the need to transition towards sustainable, low-carbon economies that might allow us to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.  But developing countries, not least in Latin American and the Caribbean, face […]

Think locally, act globally

Why do we observe climate-friendly behaviour?

From an economic perspective, it is particularly hard to explain why people, and countries, engage in pro-environmental behaviour. Even more so when it comes to climate-friendly behaviour. Since its benefits are enjoyed worldwide, regardless of who shoulders its burden, why not simply free riding on the efforts of others?

Yet, people purchase hybrid cars, solar […]

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    Slow economics: shifting the focus to sustainability and quality of life

Slow economics: shifting the focus to sustainability and quality of life

This post explores the relationship between some relatively new concepts in economics – slow living, slow food, slow writing and the green economy. The goal is twofold – discussing the possibilities opened by these exciting new concepts, in terms of an increase in the quality of life combined with an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, as well as ascertaining what they […]

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    The UK needs free trade in low-carbon technologies with the EU

The UK needs free trade in low-carbon technologies with the EU

The Government has made it clear in its White Paper that the UK will not be seeking membership of the Single Market after it leaves the European Union, but it will pursue “an ambitious and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement”.

The White Paper also states: “The UK’s climate action will continue to be underpinned by our climate targets as set out in the […]

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    How changes in the prices of milk and beef affect deforestation in Brazil

How changes in the prices of milk and beef affect deforestation in Brazil

At first glance, this may seem like a trivial question but in the context of the Brazilian Amazon, heavily deforested over the last half-a-century, understanding the links between commodity prices and deforestation is important given ever-increasing demand for beef and dairy products. Tropical forests host critical biodiversity ‘hotspots’ as well as providing a range of important ecosystem services, in […]

Saving energy when it matters most

Unlike most other goods, electricity cannot be cost-effectively stored even for short periods. Supply must always meet demand, or you have blackouts. In addition, electricity demand is highly variable and inelastic (Ito 2014). As a result, electricity markets clear mostly on the supply side, with production ramping up and down to meet demand (Borenstein 2000, Griffin and Puller 2005). […]

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    Theresa May should press President Trump about his actions on climate change

Theresa May should press President Trump about his actions on climate change

On 13 January, the office of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, received a letter signed by 100 members of the climate change research community about the potential threats to, and opportunities for, the UK national interest arising from the recent elections in the United States.

I had signed the letter after becoming concerned by alarming reports of plans that could […]

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    Where mining takes place, food production takes a hit in Ghana

Where mining takes place, food production takes a hit in Ghana

The device you are using to read this blog contains at least a dozen different types of minerals, many of which most likely come from modern large-scale mines in developing countries. As these mining operations tend to be located in poor rural locations, the question of how neighbouring populations are affected by their expansion becomes an interesting one. The […]

Why electric cars aren’t always environmentally sound

Electric cars are often advertised as “zero emission vehicles”. Although it is true that they don’t have tailpipes, electric cars are charged from the electrical grid, and most electric power plants release air pollution emissions through their smokestacks. So which is cleaner, tailpipes or smokestacks?

As with real estate valuation, the answer depends on three factors: location, location, location. In […]

How to put cities at the heart of EU clean energy plans

Color of green (bike parking at Bologna station), by DaiLuo, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
Four trends are reshaping the European energy system. Decarbonisation and digitalisation are leading to decentralisation and convergence. Thanks to strong public policy decisions, decarbonisation is reshuffling the European energy mix. Meanwhile, innovation in digital technologies is enabling disruptive changes in the management of energy systems. This is […]

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    What energy and climate change policies can we expect from President Trump?

What energy and climate change policies can we expect from President Trump?

Strip coal mining, by Stephen Codrington, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic licence
The election on 8 November of Donald Trump as President of the United States has created great uncertainty about future American policies on energy and climate change. President-Elect Trump has in the past made a number of public statements questioning the existence of climate change, even claiming […]

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    Can North Africa’s energy challenges become opportunities?

Can North Africa’s energy challenges become opportunities?

Algerian desert, by Magharebia, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
It is in Europe’s interest to foster stability, security and prosperity in North Africa. But so far Europe’s attempts to promote economic and political reform in the region have failed. The aftermath of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrated the limitations of the EU’s leverage over economic and political developments in North Africa. But […]

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    Negative interest rates are an opportunity for the UK to invest in sustainable infrastructure

Negative interest rates are an opportunity for the UK to invest in sustainable infrastructure

London, by jo.sau, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
The new UK Government under Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to boosting UK productivity and addressing the widening wealth gap. Achieving all this will require the right investments by both the public and private sectors at a time of heightened economic uncertainty.

The UK Government could improve economic growth by taking advantage of negative […]