CEENRG Working Papers

Please see below for a list of CEENRG Working Papers published as part of CEENRG Research Series. The list includes full references to the working papers, their abstracts, and links to download the full text in PDF.



  • 37. Illuminating trade-offs: the socio-economic impacts of dam construction in the Global South, Goodman, L., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2024-01.

    Governments adapting to and mitigating climate change face trade-offs between the local impacts of infrastructure designed to address it and national action plans. Reservoir dams are one example of such infrastructure, having profound social and environmental impacts. The literature is inconsistent on the socio-economic impacts of dams and opinions vary widely. Thus, this study investigates the local socio-economic impact of large dam construction on surrounding areas in the Global South. It uses annual night time lights at a 1 km resolution, which correlates to GDP, to understand changes in socio-economic activity. It compares areas where dams have been built before and after construction to areas where dams will be built. The sample of 145 dam sites is drawn from reservoir dams constructed between 2005 and 2009, compared to control sites that were constructed from 2013 onwards. Results show that dams decrease socio-economic activity 15 km around the dam site, an effect that can be observed up to 50 km from the dam and that persists for at least three years. The effect decreases with distance and increases over time, patterns suggest that migration and inundation are drivers. Results show that dams fundamentally shift socio-economic dynamics, which should be considered when evaluating their trade-offs.

  • 36. The Evolution of Trade in 30 Energy Technology Materials Spanning Traditional and Clean Energy Technologies, and its Implications, Galeazzi, C., and Anadon, L.D., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2023-03.

    This study explores a spatial piecewise approach as a means to facilitate the hedonic valuation of per unit area of urban green spaces at different distances from a property. In particular, we adapted the step function and regression spline estimation methods to statistically and visually identify the spatial boundary where green spaces cease to be capitalised into house prices. In comparison, existing literature on the hedonic prices of green spaces, despite being extensive, has mostly focused on the proximity to and views of urban green spaces, instead of the area of green spaces. Yet arguably, the hedonic price of the area of green spaces can be more relevant to cost-benefit analysis for urban land use decision making, which typically concerns a particular area of land. The empirical approach proposed in this study was applied to a rich census dataset collected from Beijing. Our hedonic price estimates are robust to an instrumental variable estimator and a novel matching algorithm that minimises covariate imbalance for a continuous treatment variable (the area of green spaces).

  • 35. Area-Based Hedonic Pricing of Urban Green Amenities in Beijing: A Spatial Piecewise Approach, Liu, Z., Huang, H., Siikamäki, J., and Xu, J., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2023-02.

    This study explores a spatial piecewise approach as a means to facilitate the hedonic valuation of per unit area of urban green spaces at different distances from a property. In particular, we adapted the step function and regression spline estimation methods to statistically and visually identify the spatial boundary where green spaces cease to be capitalised into house prices. In comparison, existing literature on the hedonic prices of green spaces, despite being extensive, has mostly focused on the proximity to and views of urban green spaces, instead of the area of green spaces. Yet arguably, the hedonic price of the area of green spaces can be more relevant to cost-benefit analysis for urban land use decision making, which typically concerns a particular area of land. The empirical approach proposed in this study was applied to a rich census dataset collected from Beijing. Our hedonic price estimates are robust to an instrumental variable estimator and a novel matching algorithm that minimises covariate imbalance for a continuous treatment variable (the area of green spaces).

  • 34. From Hydrogen Hype to Hydrogen Reality: A Horizon Scanning for the Business Opportunities, Küfeoğlu, S., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2023-01.


    There is growing interest in the hydrogen economy and businesses that deploy hydrogen worldwide. The desire to tackle the adverse effects of climate change, achieve a green transition and deep decarbonisation, ambitious future net-zero targets of numerous countries, increasing pressure for energy security, and being self-reliant are reasons behind this interest. However, hydrogen is not a new phenomenon. Nowadays, many people ask if the hydrogen economy has a future. The answer is not straightforward, as the hydrogen economy has numerous different application areas. The main question is which hydrogen applications can be deployed commercially and which business cases are not viable. This paper investigates 20 prominent hydrogen-related business opportunities and reviews a sample of 64 companies' business models from 18 countries worldwide. The paper aims to highlight which cases are viable now and which ones are likely to be viable in the future. Our aim is to present a broad horizon scanning along the value chain for the global use of hydrogen as a commercial entity. Figure A shows 20 business opportunities directly and indirectly related to the wider hydrogen economy and their viability assessment in the market, where grey indicates high carbon hydrogen, and the rest is low carbon hydrogen. Our initial horizon scanning reveals that majority of the business opportunities lack generating self-sustaining revenues, hence they are away from being mature businesses. In this paper, we listed several observations and remarks specific for each business and their viability.

  • 33. The Efficacy of Climate-Related Financial Disclosures: How do Investors Respond to Transparency?, Poensgen, I. B., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2022-01.


    In recent years, we have witnessed a wave of policy action by financial supervisors pushing for climate-related financial disclosures. These efforts are underpinned by two core expectations, namely that investors value the transparency of firms who disclose, and that they will shift investments towards firms that exhibit a higher degree of climate risk stewardship. To date, however, little research has investigated whether these expectations hold in practice. Addressing this gap, this paper presents an empirical investigation of the influence of firm-level disclosures on the equity investment decisions of the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund (NWF). Building on a novel dataset that matches the fund's 2018 and 2019 equity portfolios with disclosure scores awarded by the Carbon Disclosure Project and firm-level economic data, I investigate how the NWF reacts to firms’ disclosures. My results indicate that, in the period considered, neither of the two hypotheses underlying the regulatory push for disclosures holds. Neither participation in voluntary disclosure schemes nor disclosure scores that indicate strong corporate action on climate risks are robustly associated with higher equity investments by the fund. I argue that these findings significantly undermine the argument that disclosures, in isolation, will be sufficient to allow private markets to "correctly" internalize climate risks and optimally allocate funds.

  • 32. Underestimation of the Impacts of Decarbonisation Policies on Innovation to Create Domestic Growth Opportunities, Peñasco, C., Kolesnikov, S., and Anadon, L. D., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2021-06.

    This paper shows that the basis for decision making in many climate, energy and innovation policies is biased against correctly estimating the opportunities and economic benefits from decarbonisation policies. The three main reasons are: the underestimation of technological change by experts and most quantitative approaches; the new evidence regarding the positive impact of decarbonisation policies across all stages of innovation, not just diffusion; and the underrepresentation of innovation processes in economic models.

  • 31. Gaining a Foot in the Door: Giving Access to Justice with SDG 16.3?, Huck, W., and Maaß, J., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2021-05.



    ceenrg_wp_2021_05_huck_maas.pdf(1.28 MB)

    Access to Justice is seen for good reasons as a building block in the rule of law concept of the SDGs. Yet, to date, it is not certain what access to justice even means in light of the Global Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. Do the rights of individuals and groups have a chance of being realised against the background of the growing number of Free Trade Agreements with Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters? Who takes care? Moreover, what chance does “Mother Earth” have in court? Even if law creates its own restrictive rules on access to justice in some regard, could the SDGs help to facilitate access? Could arguments be extracted from the SDGs that justify and even expand access to court? This study discusses the understanding of the concept of access to justice as enshrined in SDG 16.3 and attempts to identify and extract its legally resilient meaning. Based on this understanding, the difficulties in life’s realities and the most yawning gaps are revealed and juxtaposed with ways to overcome them and concludes with further ensuing research questions.

  • 30. Connecting scientific advances and patented technologies: The role of open access scientific publishing in clean-technology innovation, Probst, B., Kontoleon, A., and Anadon, L. D., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2021-04.

    Getting to a net-zero economy requires faster development and diffusion of novel clean energy technologies. Understanding how the characteristics of scientific publications, such as the degree of accessibility, impact the development of technological innovations is critical. Yet, empirically establishing the links between scientific research and technological application (often studied using patents) is a highly under-researched area due to its complexity. Combining data science methods, machine learning, and econometrics, we develop and apply a novel approach to assess the determinants of the probability with which scientific discoveries (codified in scientific articles) are used in four major types of clean energy patents (i.e., batteries, biofuel, solar power, and wind power). We use data from more than 100,000 scientific articles and over 600,000 patents from these four technology categories for the period 2005 to 2018. Based on this data we first evaluate whether the diffusion time between scientific publishing and patented technologies has changed. We then investigate the effects of the characteristics of scientific articles on the probability that an article will be used in a patent as measured by citations in the non-patent literature. We also evaluate the effects of the characteristics of scientific articles that have been used by patents on the actual influence of the patent itself on other patents. We find that that the average lag between the publication of the scientific article and the citation of the patent has sharply decreased from on average 5-6 years in 2005 to less than 2 years in 2013. We also find that the most important predictor of whether a scientific article is used in a patent is whether it can be assessed without a paywall. In addition, we find that scientific articles that are cited more often by other scientific articles also lead to more influential patents.  Our results indicate that the current scientific publication market structure – characterised by an oligopoly of publishers primarily relying on subscriptions from universities – is associated with a small but adverse effect on clean-tech innovation. Our results have profound implications for the transition to a carbon net-zero economy and could also have wider implications in other sectors (such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology).

  • 29. Renewable Energy Policy, Local Content Requirements and Technology Transfer: Evidence from South Africa, Probst, B., and Dechezleprêtre, A., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2021-03.

    Under revision

  • 28. Legal front-lines in the geopolitics of the energy transformation, Vinuales, J., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2021-02.

  • 27. Reframing environmental law: From ‘optimising’ false certainties to ‘steering’ under true uncertainty, Vinuales, J., and Mercure, J.-F., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2021-01.

    The decade between 2020-2030 is, by many accounts, critically important for our ability to set a new course on how human activity, as a force of geological proportions, is affecting the Earth System. Environmental law features prominently among the human technologies through which such new course could be achieved. The purpose of this article is to outline not a theory of environmental law and policy, but a diagnostic of what we see as the main problem and, hopefully, a realistic, effective and fair reframing of this technology. We will attempt to make one point as clearly as possible: environmental law, even avant la lettre, was and remains designed as a law of negative externalities, that is a body of laws fundamentally organised so as to minimise interference with the underlying transaction while mitigating its negative externalities.

    Yet, the scale and urgency of the unfolding environmental crisis has now made the critique of this hierarchy (of the economy over environmental protection) more powerful. This critique has long existed, in very different forms, some highly questionable in their radical, authoritarian and/or unrealistic leanings, but the climate crisis has made part of their message more credible and effective. Yet, the social technology we call environmental law remains structured as well as embedded in a broader legal structure (e.g. sovereign equality, economic freedoms, etc.) which sets fundamental bounds to more intrusive inroads into the transaction. To mention only climate change, it is striking that something as widely acknowledged to be harmful as emissions of greenhouse gases is unquestionably lawful and merely, indeed loosely, controlled. The reason for that is quite compelling, namely that the processes that sustain our way of life since the industrial revolution are based on technologies (associated with the use of fossil fuels) which emit greenhouse gases. Thus, the normative fairness dimension of relevance, alone, does not seem enough to prompt a legal intrusion into the core of the transaction.

    What then may be enough? We hope to answer this question by moving from the diagnostic to the therapeutic aspects. More specifically, we will discuss an understanding of how the very transactions can be made to change so that the core transaction protected by legal organisation is no longer an economically useful process with a potentially negative environmental footprint, but one that, by its very nature, does not require intrusion into its core. Such understanding exists, but it is not yet reflected in environmental law. Indeed, environmental law remains the law of negative externalities and the most it is expected to do is to be ‘efficient’. At the root of the problem of environmental law as a technology lies an inaccurate framing based on allocative ‘efficiency’. As long as this framing remains, the very opportunities, including economic ones, of moving away from the processes that may cause an irreversible (in a human timescale) change in the dynamics of the Earth System, will simply remain outside of our radar.

  • 26. A Post-Keynesian approach to modelling the economic effects of Covid-19 and possible recovery plans, Pollitt, H., Lewney, R., Kiss-Dobronyi, B. and Lin, X., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2020-05.

    Only twelve years after the global financial crisis, in 2020 the world is again facing economic crisis. This time around the source of the crisis is the Covid-19 global pandemic, which is affecting the economy differently to the global financial crisis. However, conventional macroeconomic theory and models have once again been found wanting, and economists have again turned to the work of Keynes and more recent Post-Keynesian scholars.

    This paper explores why the economics of the pandemic have been so difficult to model. It provides a simulation of the macroeconomic impacts of Covid-19 using the E3ME macro-econometric model. It then describes two potential recovery packages, one of which could be described as ‘green’. The modelling shows that the green recovery package could support the global economy and national labour markets through the recovery period, outperforming an equivalent conventional stimulus package while simultaneously reducing global energy CO2 emissions by 10%.

  • 25. Risk-opportunity analysis for transformative policy design and appraisal, Mercure, J.-F., Sharpe, S., Vinuales, J., Ives, M., Grubb, M., Pollitt, H., Knobloch, F., Nijsse, F. J. M. M., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2020-04.

    The climate crisis demands a strong response from policy-makers worldwide. Technological change, innovation, labour markets and the financial system must be led towards an orderly and rapid low-carbon transition. Yet progress has been slow and incremental. Inadequacies of policy appraisal frameworks used worldwide may be significant contributors to the problem, because they frequently fail to adequately account for the dynamics of societal and technological change. Risks are underestimated, and the economic opportunities from innovation are generally not assessed in practice, even if they ought to be in theory. Here we set out some of the root causes of those inadequacies. We propose a generalisation of existing frameworks for policy appraisal to help evaluate situations of transformational change.  We use the term “risk-opportunity analysis” to capture the generalised approach, in which conventional economic cost-benefit analysis is a special case. New guiding principles for policy-making during dynamic and transformational change are offered.

  • 24. Deciding how to decide: Risk-opportunity analysis as a generalisation of cost-benefit analysis, Sharpe, S., Mercure, J.-F., Vinuales, J., Ives, M., Grubb, M., Pollitt, H., Knobloch, F., Nijsse, F. J. M. M., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2020-03.

    Policymaking in the UK, the US and many other parts of the world relies heavily on cost-benefit analysis, applied within a market failure framework that rests on the theoretical foundation of welfare economics. These techniques have their roots in the so-called ‘Marginal Revolution’ of the 1870s. As the UK government’s guide to policy appraisal (the ‘Green Book’) acknowledges (section 5.5) these techniques are appropriate for informing policy in contexts of marginal change, but work less well outside those conditions. So, what should be done when the aim is to change big things quickly, or where opportunities for transformative change are available? Concerns have been raised that applying marginal analysis techniques outside their appropriate realm may create a bias towards inaction. But finance ministries may be equally concerned that if policymakers are given free rein to label their policies as ‘transformational’ in intent, and therefore exempt from cost benefit analysis, a bias for action may be hard to contain. The challenge, then, is to define an approach to informing policy in a broad set of conditions that has analytical rigour, demands a proportionate amount of effort, and avoids undue bias in either direction.

  • 23. The Impact of Stranded Fossil Fuel Assets on International Financial Institutions: A financial exposure analysis and implications for European central banks and financial regulators, Baer, M., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2020-2.

    This paper presents a comprehensive exposure analysis of international financial institutions (FIs) to stranded fossil fuel assets (SFFA) across 68 countries. The analysis disaggregates a 2.81 trillion US$ exposure of 6,510 FIs to the 26 largest publicly traded oil and gas companies (IOCs) and captures the SFFA-exposure not only through the equity but also through the bond channel. I present granular empirical insights on the composition and level of SFFA-exposure on the individual FI-level, the financial sectorial level, and the jurisdiction and international level. The results highlight the importance of bonds in the financial analysis because outstanding bonds account for almost 60% of the direct SFFA-exposure of the insurance sector alone. The paper draws on a new comparative framework of Risk-Levels for financial sectors that captures the financial risk and its diversification across different FIs. This uncovers financial stress and portfolio vulnerability of financial sectors and the respective country jurisdictions. The analysis reflects the highest Risk-Levels for pension funds and sovereign wealth funds in Norway, banks in France and the US, and insurance companies in the US and UK. With a focus on Europe, I stress the need to enhance prudential reforms by financial regulators. I argue that climate-related disclosure requirements alone are not sufficient to mitigate the far-reaching consequences of a high SFFA exposure of FIs. I discuss several measures for an intensified role of European central banks and financial regulators. These measures contribute to building a climate-resilient financial system.

  • 22. The EU and the Global Agenda 2030: Reflection, Strategy and Legal Implementation, Huck, W., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2020-1.


    Although the EU supports the United Nations Global Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it has failed up to now to translate the Global Agenda 2030 into a politically and legally coherent strategic format. Whether it will succeed in the future remains an open question. On the basis of systematic legal considerations, the extent to which sustainable development has so far played a role in trade policy is examined on the basis of EU Free Trade Agreements, relations with ASEAN, the Post-Cotonou Agreement with the ACP-States and the current relations between the EU and China.

  • 21. Minimising unwanted interactions between CO2 and low-carbon energy policies: The case of the Mexican electricity sector, Jano-Ito, M. A., Crawford-Brown, D. and de Vries, L. J., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2019-1.

    Many countries apply a combination of a CO2 reduction policy with a policy for stimulating renewable energy. However, as these policy instruments have overlapping goals, they interact with each other, not necessarily in a positive way. This paper uses an agent-based model for a case study of the Mexican electricity sector to explore the impacts of a carbon tax and a tradable green certificates (TGC) market on low-carbon transition pathways, focusing on these policies’ specific design elements, combinations and interactions. A mechanism aimed at reducing the negative effect of a carbon tax on the TGC price (a sloping penalty function for non-compliance and dynamic quota adjustment in the TGC market) is analysed. The results show that the impact of the combination of the carbon tax with the TGC market depends on the tax level and the penalty values for the TGC market, causing one instrument to dominate over the other. With respect to GHG mitigation goals, if a low carbon tax is applied, a TGC market helps to achieve greater emission reductions. If the carbon tax is high, the addition of a TGC market does not cause significant further emission reductions. The TGC market adjustment mechansims reduce the volatility of TGC prices and the negative interactions between the carbon tax and the TGC market and thereby further facilitates the introduction of low-carbon technologies and the reduction of GHG emissions.

  • 20. Sustainable Development in International Law, Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2018-3.

    Sustainable development is the main concept underpinning our policy response to the environmental crisis the world faces. As such, it is pervasive in all sorts of documents, writings and discourse, including legal ones and, within the latter, international legal instruments. Its ubiquitous character is only matched by its vagueness; and its vagueness is a deliberate choice driven by its function, which is to rally rather than to divide. This paper examines the concept of sustainable development specifically from the perspective of international law. It investigates three main aspects: (1) the conceptual history of sustainable development; (2) the legal meaning attached to this concept; and, on the basis of these two aspects, also (3) the nature, functions and practical operation of sustainable development in international legal practice.

  • 19. Customary International Law and the Environment, Dupuy, P.-M., Le Moli, G. and Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2018-2.


    Despite the large number of environmental agreements at the global, regional and bilateral levels, the role of customary international law remains of great importance in practice. First, many treaties which are in force remain largely unimplemented. Secondly, treaties only bind those States that have become parties to them, and that introduces sometimes important variations in the scope of environmental agreements. Thirdly, there is at present no treaty formulating binding overarching principles interweaving sectorial environmental agreements. As a result, it is often necessary to go back to the level of customary norms when certain difficulties of interpretation or implementation arise. Fourthly, custom is important to conciliate a range of environmental and non-environmental interests (e.g. trade, human rights, investment, armed action) governed by different treaties. Last but not least, custom plays an important role in disputes concerning a disputed area or where there is no applicable treaty. In this context, this chapter examines two main questions. Section II analyses the process of custom formation with reference to environmental protection in order to show both the ‘banality’ of this process but also its peculiarities. Section III focuses on the content of customary international environmental law as recognised in the case-law, both old and new.

  • 18. A Global Pact for the Environment: Conceptual Foundations, Aguila, Y. and Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2018-1

    This article first situates the search for a global framework instrument on environmental protection in a long-term perspective and then discusses the main reasons why it is needed. Against this background, we then present the current expression of this much broader trend, in the form of the initiative for a GPE and the momentum it has generated in policy circles, first and foremost at the level of the UN General Assembly. But the need for such an instrument heavily depends on its nature, content and articulation with existing international instruments, which must be designed to specifically allow for significant flexibility in its implementation by States with different legal systems and political realities. For that reason, we propose an analytical framework to guide the delicate exercise of striking a balance between a range of different considerations.

  • 17. System Complexity and Policy Integration Challenges: the Brazilian Energy-Water-Food Nexus, J.-F. Mercure et al., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2017-6.

    Full reference: System Complexity and Policy Integration Challenges: the Brazilian Energy-Water-Food Nexus, J.-F. Mercure, M. A. Paim, P. Bocquillon, S. Lindner, P. Salas, P. Martinelli, I.I. Berchin, J.B.S.O.A. Guerra, C. Derani, C. L. de Albuquerque Junior, J.M.P. Ribeiro, F. Knobloch, H. Pollitt, N. R. Edwards, P. B. Holden, A. Foley, S. Schaphoff, R.A. Faracao, J. E. Viñuales, C-EENRG Working Papers, 2017-6.

    The Energy-Water-Food Nexus is one of the most complex sustainability challenges faced by the world. This is particularly true in Brazil, where insufficiently understood interactions within the Nexus are contributing to large-scale deforestation and land-use change, water and energy scarcity, and increased vulnerability to climate change. The reason is a combination of global environmental change and global economic change, putting unprecedented pressures on the Brazilian environment and ecosystems. In this paper, we identify and discuss the main Nexus challenges faced by Brazil across sectors (e.g. energy, agriculture, water) and scales (e.g. federal, state, municipal). We use four case studies to explore all nodes of the Nexus. For each, we survey current scientific and economic knowledge, and existing policy, in order to identify governance shortcomings in the context of growing challenges. We analyse the complex interdependence of developments at the global and local (Brazilian) levels, highlighting the impact of global environmental and economic change on Brazil and, conversely, that of developments in Brazil for other countries and the world. We conclude on the need to adjust the scientific approach to these challenges as an enabling condition for stronger science-policy bridges for sustainability policy-making.

  • 16. Legal Aspects of Energy Policy, Morgandi, T. and Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2017-5.

    This chapter aims to explain the importance of the legal aspects of energy policy. The answer is relatively simple and it can be summarised in two main propositions: (A) different legal expressions have different implications for the effectiveness and overall impact of a policy, and (B) the choice of legal expression (the choice of 'words' to convey the same idea) is highly constrained by (i) law as a technology (ie the tools available to translate a policy into legal terms), (ii) the need to fit the policy within a broader legal framework and, of course, (iii) the underlying economic, social and political considerations affecting the choice of certain legal expressions. This chapter illustrates these two propositions by reference to three case-studies relating to the extraction of shale gas in the EU, decarbonisation in the United States, and State support for renewable energy in India.

  • 15. Reforming the Chinese Electricity Supply Sector: Lessons from International Experience, Pollitt, M. G., Yang, C-H., Chen, H., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2017-4.

    Download - the file is too large to keep on our website so please contact CEENRG if you wish to view a copy.

    We begin with a brief background to the current Chinese power market reforms which began with the State Council No.9 Document of March 2015. We introduce 14 different electricity reform elements from international experience. Under each of these reform elements we will discuss: its theoretical significance; general reform experiences with it; and its application in the Chinese context. Our motivation is how China might bring down the currently high industrial price of electricity. We identify four promising sources of price reduction: the introduction of economic dispatch of power plants; rationalisation of electricity transmission and distribution; reduction of high rates of investment; and rebalancing of electricity charges towards residential customers. We draw out some overall lessons and identify some important points for future research into Chinese power market reform. 

  • 14. Modelling Innovation and the Macroeconomics of Low-Carbon Transitions: Theory, Perspectives and Practical Use, Mercure, J-F., Knoblosh, F., Pollitt, H., Paroussos, L., Scrieciu, S., Lewney, R., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2017-3.

    Analysis carried out by various institutions to assess the potential economy-wide impacts of energy and climate policies typically involves quantitative modelling using whole-economy macro-sectoral tools. When projecting economic impacts of policies for driving the uptake of low-carbon energy technologies, model based studies often conclude on different scales and even directions. These differences are attributed to the modelling methodologies used. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive account of the theoretical origins of the differences in outcomes observed between models, which are traced down to treatments of innovation and finance. We argue that all branches of macro-innovation theory can be grouped into two classes: ‘Equilibrium – Optimisation’ and ‘Non-equilibrium – Simulation’. While both approaches are theoretically rigorous and self-consistent, they yield different conclusions for the economic impact of low-carbon policy. In equilibrium models, technology support policies tend to reallocate a fixed quantity of capital resources, which may lead to sub-optimal equilibria from an economic perspective. Meanwhile, non-equilibrium models emphasise entrepreneurial activity, the creation of purchasing power by banks, and a policy’s impact on increasing economic activity. In case of scenarios that address capital intensive transformations of the economy and energy system, we find that the main determinants of model outcomes are current types of representations of the monetary and financial sectors, and of the barriers to innovation finance. Improving the representation of finance and innovation in all modelling approaches is crucial for gaining a more consistent picture of the macroeconomic impacts of energy system transformations and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Better capturing finance and innovation may also help bring convergence in projected macroeconomic model outcomes.

  • 13. Sounds of the Anthropocene, Verea, S., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2017-2.

    Sounds of the Anthropocene is a project that involves a group of artists and scientists with the aim to raise awareness of humankind´s unprecedented footprint on the Earth and, more fundamentally, to flesh out this singular moment in human history from the perspective not of words, images or acts, but sounds. Specifically, it aims at translating data from stratigraphic markers of the Anthropocene into sound, expressing the state of our planet in the shape of music stemming from the Earth’s changing condition.

  • 12. The concept of subjective right and the Anthropocene, He, L., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2017-1.


    The category of ‘right’ has become undoubtedly one of the basic concepts of modern legal history. Frequently studied by theorists of human rights or fundamental rights, it has also played a foundational role regarding contemporary political communities2. Legally speaking, the concept of ‘right’ is also very often described as ‘subjective right’, which is a more continental legal category (droit subjectif or subjectives Recht), because ‘law’ and ‘right’ are usually expressed with the same word in these languages. It would be possible to use the Hohfeldian category of ‘claim right’ to clarify the sense of ‘subjective right’ in the English language, but still the translation is not completely exact, since a Hohfeldian ‘liberty’ can also be a subjective right. So what is a right? Since it is not our main purpose here to propose another conceptual understanding, the more appropriate question might be: what is the meaning of subjective right vis-à-vis the Anthropocene?

  • 11. Promoting renewables through free trade agreements? An assessment of the relevant provisions, Cima, E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2016-7.

    The vast network of free trade agreements that are being negotiated around the world could be seen as a viable vehicle to facilitate trade in renewable energy goods, services, and technologies. Unlike WTO agreements, modern FTAs contain an increasing number of provisions dealing, directly or indirectly, with renewable energy. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First it aims at providing a taxonomy of the main techniques used by countries to include provisions on renewable energy in their FTAs, by focusing on all the agreements signed by the EU and the US. These techniques are then further analysed comparing different agreements, as each technique can have a very different impact based on the scope of the relevant provisions, their degree of generality/specificity, as well as their specific content. Second, this paper builds on this analysis to further investigate the ways in which FTAs distance themselves from WTO Agreements in their attempt to regulate renewable energy. In this regard, the paper pinpoints three characteristics of FTAs: the model used to incorporate renewable energy provisions in their chapters, the tendency to promote dispute prevention, and the shift towards a more balanced dispute resolution.

  • 10. The double failure of environmental regulation and deregulation and the need for ecological law, Montini, M., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2016-6.


    The evolution of environmental law in the last few decades has developed along two main phases, which correspond to two opposed and sometimes conflicting trends.The first phase, which may be identified with the “environmental regulatory trend”, has been characterised by the attempt to protect the environment by addressing and managing the negative externalities caused on the environment by the unrestrained growth promoted by the currently dominant economic model. Such a regulatory trend, despite producing an enormous corpus of legislation, has shown many deficiencies. The shortcomings of the environmental regulation trend have therefore paved the way for the advent of the second phase, characterised by an “environmental deregulatory trend”, which has promoted a shift towards the progressive revision of the existing legislation, with a view to simplify and streamline it. Unfortunately, both approaches have led to a substantial failure. The aim of the present paper is to analyse the double failure of environmental regulation and deregulation and to promote a possible way out. This is identified in the need to revise the current regulatory regime for environmental protection and to promote a shift towards a new ecologically based approach to the law, which should primarily aim at the protection of the health and integrity of the ecosystems which support life on Earth. Moreover, in order to signal the decisive shift that the new approach should mark, a corresponding change in the name of the law aimed at the protection of the environment and the ecosystems will be proposed: from environmental law to ecological law.

  • 9. Rethinking regulation for promoting an ecologically based approach to sustainability, Montini, M. Volpe, F., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2016-5.


    The present paper argues for the necessity to rethink regulation in order to effectively promote a new ecologically based approach to sustainability. The paper firstly focuses on the following fundamental question: what is the original and correct meaning of sustainability? In order to try and answer such question, the historical origin of the term sustainability is traced back and analysed. Secondly, on the basis of the findings of the analysis on the original and correct meaning of the term sustainability, an essential and foremost research question is investigated: sustainability of what? This is a crucial issue, given the fact that, despite the widespread use of the term sustainability, it is evident that a general understanding of what should be sustained or, in other terms, of what should be the object and the aim of sustainability, is missing. Then, on the basis of the findings of the two above mentioned questions, the issue of how to rethink regulation for promoting a new ecologically based approach to sustainability is tackled. In such a context, a triple change of perspective is proposed, with the aim to contribute to the shift from the current economic model, based on the mantra of an infinite economic growth, to a more balanced approach, based on the concept of ecological integrity, aimed at promoting human development in harmony with nature.

  • 8. Law and the Anthropocene, Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2016-4.


    This article aims to provide a research agenda to understand the role of law
    in prompting, sustaining and potentially managing the Anthropocene, the current
    era of the Earth system where humans are the driving geological force. More
    fundamentally, the article aims to frame the vast inquiry on the role of law in the
    Anthropocene that we, as lawyers, will face in the 21st century and explain why
    such an inquiry must go far beyond the narrow confines of environmental law and
    encompass the entirety of law and legal processes, with particular emphasis on
    some areas where law seems to have favoured and sustained the advent of the

  • 7. A price is a guide: The English plastic bag charge and measuring the internalisation of law, Larcom, S., Panzone, L. A., Swanson, T., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2016-3.


    We measure the behavioural and motivational impacts of a legislative change in England that required supermarkets to charge for new plastic carrier bags they issued. Using a difference-in-difference estimator, we find that the treatment group used 1.7 less new plastic bags per shopping trip after seven weeks. We also find evidence of motivational ‘crowding in’. That is, we find increased motivation to reduce plastic bag use and acceptance of the government’s role in regulating their use. Using mediation analysis we find that the price effect of the charge grows over time, whereas the internal motivation effect falls (in relative terms). Seven weeks after the legislation came into force the price change explains 90% of the reduction in new plastic bags used, while the change in motivation explains only 10% of the reduction.

    Keywords: internalisation of law, expressive law, crowding in, external and internalised motivations

  • 6. How IPBES works: The functions, structures and processes of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Montana, J., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2016-2.


    The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an international knowledge institution established through the United Nations system. Mandated to “strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services”, IPBES has a detailed set of intergovernmentally agreed functions, structures and processes that guide its first Work Program (2014-2018). This working paper sets out these institutional arrangements, noting that broader understanding of the IPBES mechanisms may assist wider participation, accountability, and scholarly analysis.

    Keywords:  biodiversity; environmental knowledge; institutional arrangements; IPBES; science-policy interface

  • 5. Foreign investment and the environment in international law: The current state of play, Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2016-1.


    Several years have passed since the relationship between the laws governing foreign investment and environmental protection started to receive well-deserved attention.1 What was foreseeable then is clear now. The increased momentum to move from a resource-inefficient and polluting socio-economic model to one with a lower environmental footprint is resulting in significant regulatory change, and much more is coming. One major objective of such change is to harness the financial and technological strength of the private sector to promote environmental protection, which, despite the prevailing ‘synergistic’ discourse, can, unfortunately, not be achieved without some significant tensions arising from cost-internalisation or investment shifting measures that adversely affect economic operators. Yet, the transition from a brown to a green economy is in motion, and its fine print, including the regulatory and litigation risks it entails, is taking an increasingly recognisable shape.
    This paper is about trends that have moved from forecast to reality. It is also about more forecasting. And it is, above all, about understanding how environmental protection is gaining ground in the international law of foreign investment and in the mindset of those whose profession is to clarify it and apply it.

  • 4. The role of money and the financial sector in energy-economy models used for assessing climate policy, Pollitt, H., Mercure, J. F., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2015-4.

    This paper outlines a critical gap in the assessment methodology used to estimate the macroeconomic costs and benefits of climate policy. It shows that the vast majority of models used for assessing climate policy use assumptions about the financial system that sit at odds with the observed reality. In particular, the models’ assumptions lead to ‘crowding out’ of capital, which cause them to show negative impacts from climate policy in virtually all cases. We compare this approach with that of the E3ME model, which follows non-equilibrium economic theory and adopts a more empirical approach. While the non-equilibrium model also has limitations, its treatment of the financial system is more consistent with reality and it shows that green investment need not crowd out investment in other parts of the economy – and may therefore off er an economic stimulus.

    The implication of this finding is that standard Computable General Equilibrium models consistently over-estimate the costs of climate policy in terms of GDP and welfare, potentially by a substantial amount. The conclusions from the modelling therefore overly restrict the range of possible emission pathways accessible using climate policy from the viewpoint of the decision-maker, and may also lead to misleading information used for policy making. Improvements in both modelling approaches should be sought with some urgency – both to provide a better assessment of potential climate policy and to improve understanding of the dynamics of the global financial system more generally.

    Keywords: macroeconomic modelling, financial modelling, investment, crowding out, climate policy 

  • 3. The Paris climate agreement: an initial examination, Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2015-3.


    This paper provides an initial examination of the legal structure and content of the Paris Agreement adopted at COP-21 on 12 December 2015. After a brief overview of the negotiations leading to Paris, I analyse the architecture of the Paris Agreement focusing on three main components, namely (1) the goals, (2) the action areas (mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage), and (3) the implementation techniques (information-based: transparency mechanism and global stocktake; compliance facilitation: finance, technology transfer, capacity-building, REDD, linking, sustainable development mechanism; management of non-compliance: non-compliance procedure and dispute settlement). Each component is analysed in turn. The paper concludes with some general observations on the prospects for the Paris Agreement.

  • 2. Modelling complex systems of heterogeneous agents to better design sustainability transitions policy, Mercure, J. F., Pollitt, H., Bassi, A. M., Viñuales, J. E., Edwards, N. R., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2015-2.


    This article proposes a fundamental methodological shift in the modelling of policy interventions for sustainability transitions in order to account for complexity (e.g. self-reinforcing mechanisms, such as technology lock-ins, arising from multi-agent interactions) and agent heterogeneity (e.g. differences in consumer and investment behaviour arising from income stratification). We first characterise the uncertainty faced by climate policy-makers and its implications for investment decision-makers. We then identify five shortcomings in the equilibrium and optimisation-based approaches most frequently used to inform sustainability policy: (i) their normative, optimisation-based nature, (ii) their unrealistic reliance on the full-rationality of agents, (iii) their inability to account for mutual influences among agents (multi-agent interactions) and capture related self-reinforcing (positive feedback) processes, (iv) their inability to represent multiple solutions and path-dependency, and (v) their inability to properly account for agent heterogeneity. The aim of this article is to introduce an alternative modelling approach based on complexity dynamics and agent heterogeneity, and explore its use in four key areas of sustainability policy, namely (1) technology adoption and diffusion, (2) macroeconomic impacts of low-carbon policies, (3) interactions between the socio-economic system and the natural environment, and (4) the anticipation of policy outcomes. The practical relevance of the proposed methodology is subsequently discussed by reference to four specific applications relating to each of the above areas: the diffusion of transport technology, the impact of low-carbon investment on income and employment, the management of cascading uncertainties, and the cross-sectoral impact of biofuels policies. In conclusion, the article calls for a fundamental methodological shift aligning the modelling of the socio-economic system with that of the climatic system, for a combined and realistic understanding of the impact of sustainability policies.

    Keywords: environmental policy assessment; climate change mitigation; complexity sciences; behavioural sciences

  • 1. International investment law and natural resource governance, Viñuales, J. E., C-EENRG Working Papers, 2015-1.


    This paper analyses the implications of contemporary international investment law for the regulation of natural resources. Natural resources are unevenly distributed across different regions and countries and that makes access a very important question. In turn, access to resources located in the territory or within the jurisdiction of a country and, more generally, any activities conducted in connection with such resources, are subject to the regulatory powers of the host State. Although such powers are above all a matter of sovereignty, understanding them through this prism alone would miss an important point, namely that the interests of a host State and a foreign investor may be aligned not only in pursuance of public welfare but also to the detriment of it. The latter phenomenon has been called the “resource curse” – i.e. a situation where a rapacious government exploits the country’s natural resources for its own benefit depriving the population of its due. Foreign investors may be involved in such phenomenon either deliberately (i.e. through a close connection with the rapacious government) or as a mere result of their activity in the host State (i.e. by making the exploitation profitable for the government irrespective of any explicit complicity). Thus, questions of 'access', 'sovereignty' and 'distribution' are closely interrelated in ways that require sustained analysis. The first section of the paper provides a brief overview of the basic architecture and building blocks of international investment law, from a structural and dynamic perspective. The focus then turns to the core subject matter, namely the specific implications of this body of law for the governance of natural resources, particularly as regards access, sovereignty and distribution. In conclusion, some observations and recommendations regarding possible avenues for reform are put forward for consideration and future research. 

    Keywords: international investment law, natural resources, extractive industries, investment policy




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