Seminar Videos


“Assessment in a changing climate: IPCC AR5 and beyond” – Katharine Mach

Date: 6 May 2016
Speaker: Katharine Mach
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Climate change assessment by the IPCC and many others has definitively taken stock of the climate problem: unequivocal warming, widespread observed impacts, and serious risks from continued high emissions. Decades on, assessment faces new demands in an emerging era of climate responses, especially given the mismatches between aspirations and the current status of action. In this presentation, I will introduce and critically evaluate approaches adopted in the latest report by the IPCC. Case studies will include (1) multi-criteria assessment of climate change risks, (2) communication of uncertainties in assessment findings, and (3) science-policy interactions during governmental approval of IPCC policymaker summaries. Throughout, I will reflect on lessons for future assessment to advance climate solutions. In particular, I will consider next directions for integrating diverse evidence, applying expert judgment, exploring possible futures, and communicating the results. These directions can improve assessment of risks with increasing warming, of mitigation and adaptation effectiveness, and of synergies and trade-offs across the diversity of societal objectives.

“Electoral Backlash Against Climate Policy: A Natural Experiment on Retrospective Voting and Local Resistance to Public Policy” – Leah Stokes

Date: 2 May 2016
Speaker: Leah Stokes
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Retrospective voting studies typically examine policies where the public has common interests. By contrast, climate policy has broad public support but concentrated opposition in communities where costs are imposed. This spatial distribution of weak supporters and strong local opponents mirrors opposition to other policies with diffuse public benefits and concentrated local costs. I use a natural experiment to investigate whether citizens living in proximity to wind energy projects retrospectively punished an incumbent government because of its climate policy. Using both fixed effects and instrumental variable estimators, I identify electoral losses for the incumbent party ranging from 4 to 10%, with the effect persisting 3 km from wind turbines. There is also evidence that voters are informed, only punishing the government responsible for the policy. I conclude that the spatial distribution of citizens’ policy preferences can affect democratic accountability through ‘spatially distorted signalling’, which can exacerbate political barriers to addressing climate change.

“Does cost optimization approximate the real-world energy transition?” – Evelina Trutnevyte

Date: 12 October 2015
Speaker: Evelina Trutnevyte
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Modeling for energy policy analysis is often grounded in an assumption that economic rationale is the key driver of the future energy transition. For example, widely-used bottom-up energy system models optimize total system costs to produce energy scenarios for decades ahead. Using ex-post UK electricity system modeling in 1990-2014, I will show that cost optimization does not necessarily approximate the real-world energy transition. The deviation in cumulative total system costs from the optimal solution is 9-23% in 25 years under various technology, cost, demand, and discount rate assumptions. Cost-optimal scenarios, in fact, gloss over a large share of uncertainty that arises due to deviations from cost optimality. I will then demonstrate that exploration of large ensembles of near-optimal scenarios under parametric uncertainty can give indication of the envelope of predictability for the real-world transition. I will close with a reflective discussion about the tension between predictive and exploratory use of energy system models.


“Consistent Residential Efficiency Improvements Across End-Uses Theoretical and Empirical Insights” – Michael Blackhurst

Date: 16 December 2013
Speaker: Michael Blackhurst
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“Weather Ready Nation” – Chris Strager

Date: 9 December 2013
Speaker: Chris Strager
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“Tracking Toxic Air Pollutants from Emissions to Impacts” – Noelle Eckley Selin

Date: 2 December 2013
Speaker: Noelle Eckley Selin
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“Quantifying the Promise of Li-Air Batteries for Electric Vehicles” – Kevin Gallagher

Date: 25 November 2013
Speaker: Kevin Gallagher
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