Welcome to the Home Page of the Sustainability and Global Decarbonisation Research Group at the University of Cambridge. The group consists largely of students (undergraduate, MPhil and PhD) in the Department of Land Economy, Centre for Sustainable Development (Engineering), Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, Department of Architecture, Judge Business School and a variety of research centres, each conducting dissertation research on a topic related to some aspect of decarbonising the global economy, and reducing the risks of climate change, through improving the sustainability of the built environment, communities, businesses and the global economy. All environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability are considered in the group, although within 4CMR there is emphasis on mitigation and adaptation policies and actions for the built environment, natural environment and industrial operations.
Research focused on the combined ‘cradle-to-gate’ emissions impact of multinational enterprises, to understand whether policy interventions into their activities might accelerate global emission abatement efforts. This includes development of a model for mapping flows of embodied emissions between industry sectors using a global multi-regional input-output framework derived from the latest GTAP database and a new analysis technique based on structural path analysis.
Research is developing a model for a fully recycling economy which preserves natural resources and ecosystem services, quantifying the relative interdependency between industrial components in terms of material and energy flows. This includes devising a methodology to quantify the environmental consequences of the current economy's material outputs (i.e. pollution and waste) on selected ecosystem services and economic inputs.
Research concerns the effect of China’s disparate regional economic development on the energy system, in particular investigating strategic pathways for decarbonising the countries electricity sector from a policy perspective as well as finding optimal technology solutions. This includes Input-output modelling and a focus on energy embodied in interregional trade and emissions accounting from a consumption perspective.
Research is examining low carbon strategies for the building sector, with a focus on the uptake of sustainable lighting in hotels. This includes developing procedures for carbon accounting and financing to drive uptake more rapidly when lighting is treated through a systems approach of integrating lighting demand into the design and retrofitting of commercial spaces.
Research focuses on examining and designing targeted incentive schemes to increase investment in and uptake of low carbon technologies in the UK's building sector.
Research is linking the technical and social factors affecting the adoption of energy efficiency measures and behaviours in the UK residential sector. This includes integrating social science research techniques with an engineering bottom-up built environment model, in order to test future energy efficiency interventions from a balanced socio-technical perspective. The results will identify the most effective solutions and provide policy suggestions for their implementation.
Research investigates the relationship between various factors of production (capitals) using statistical and econometrics techniques and summarising these relationships in a model. The model may be useful for multi-attribute decision making concerning environmental sustainability as well as explaining some real world phenomena. The research is also examining definition and measurement issues of the factors of production.
Pablo's research focuses on the process of decarbonising the power sector and its effect on the global economy, using E3 modelling tools. Current work includes the development of a model of endogenous technological transitions in the energy industry, based on endogenous investment, natural resource availability and exogenous emissions reduction policies. The new model is being constructed using a probabilistic framework, in order to incorporate climate policy uncertainty as well as risk analysis.
Research uses a cross-national regression analysis to determine the relevant political factors contributing to varied mitigation policy performances among countries. Relevant factors - the institutional design of the legislature, degree of polarization, lobbying dynamics, etc. - are then interrogated more thoroughly in case studies of both 'near-optimal' and 'obstructionist' states, to determine which domestic institutional reforms will most expeditiously promote international cooperation.
Research interests are links between car ownership, vehicle miles travelled, and greenhouse gas emissions within the UK transport sector, with a focus on designing policies that reduce emissions by targeting carownership.
Research interests are in infrastructure transition, economics and sustainability; evolutionary economic modelling; complex adaptive systems; economic restructuring; fuel poverty and energy efficiency.
Grecia Sofía Rodríguez Jiménez
Research focuses on addressing the impact climate change and demand shift will have on the vulnerabilities of the decarbonized energy system the UK aims to reach by 2050. The goal of this research wis to frame adequate mitigation and adaptation policies to tackle these uncertainties depending on the resulting energy system.
Research focuses on reducing GHG emissions of the electricity sector in Mexico by analyzing investment in low carbon energy technologies. Research includes the understanding of investors' behavior, the use of agent based modeling and the examination of different policies for the promotion of new technologies.
Research focuses on sustainable energy projects initiated by cities to determine the suite of criteria necessary for successful implementation. This includes identifying possible barriers, such as technical and financial limitations, and policy and governance issues. The results will determine a strategic framework relevant to energy initiatives and urban innovations as part of the sustainable cities agenda.
Research examines the sustainability of the water-energy-agriculture nexus for desert farming in the Middle East, where solar energy may allow for an effective reduction in the price of energy causing expanding agricultural practices stressing water resources. The aim is to evaluate degradation of natural resources (water, land, minerals, etc.), to propose more sustainable agricultural and energy generation practices, to evaluate their economics, and to formulate guidelines for national implementation strategies.
Research investigates the extent to which behavioural issues influence and potentially hinder institutional investment into large scale energy efficiency transactions. The work is being carried out through the examination of a number of case studies, each one an institutional investor entity, in order formulate a conceptual model of the investment decision making process. The resulting model could be used to inform future policy implementation.
Alumni of the Group
Terry van Gevelt
Research focuses on sustainable forest management institutions at the community level, using and Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework to examine forest management institutions in a Korean mountain village. This includes a historical study on the evolution of forest management institutions and construction of a game theoretic model, providing policy suggestions incentivising sustainable forest management.
Research focuses on assessment of urban development schemes to support engineering decision-making in the context of climate change. The research will explore tools and methodologies to enable climate change considerations to be applied more effectively to assessment practices. It includes development of a conceptual framework for climate change assessments derived from the literature and urban development case studies in South Korea and the UK.
Research is on processes and tools to stimulate urban resilience to grand challenges such as climate change, peak oil and population growth. Acknowledging humanity and urban areas as drivers of unsustainable paths, and the role of ecosystems, the study defines the sinequanons of urban resilient sustainability and addresses these through Basque case studies. The aim is to establish urban transition processes towards more sustainable lifestyles, economies and planning.
Research examines the political economy of land investments in the Nile basin, with a focus on the historical evolution of water rights and accords in the region. This includes paying particular attention to geopolitical implications of changes to water rights and usage between Ethiopia and Egypt, and the potential for future development and conflict.
Research is looking at schemes to reduce the environmental impact of the shipping industry. It focuses on Virtual Arrival, a system to remove supply chain inefficiencies in the tanker industry, as part of Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans designed to encourage behavioural changes. These changes reduce supply chain inefficiencies, provide financial savings and reduce emissions without the need for initial capital outlay or investments in new technology.
Research assesses the implementation of sustainable land use practices to reduce landscape erosion in the tropical forest frontier. This involves analysing qualitative and quantitative data on livelihood strategies in a framework of social-ecological systems and of theories of decision-making. The analysis forms the basis for an agent-based model (ABM) to compare the impact of monetary and non monetary rewards for ecosystem services (PES and RES).
Research investigates the optimal staging of environmental-economy-energy policies that maximise stakeholder compliance. This includes theoretical and empirical review of the best timing for policy initiation, as well as proposal of phased targets for the government, businesses and communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change in Hong Kong.
Current research focuses on the social justice implications of pollution distribution, climate change and environmental degradation. This includes examining the economic, ethical, political and legal frameworks that may contribute or lead to the most deprived communities suffering the highest environmental harms.
Research focuses on the Chinese national carbon trading scheme, which is still in the pipeline and is expected to be established by 2014. This includes an in depth study of recent legislation and regulations, their link with current Chinese mitigation and adaptation policies, the trend of Chinese domestic carbon market, and the potential impact to both of the mandatory as well as the voluntary carbon markets worldwide after the scheme is established.
Research examines agricultural adaptation to environmental change, including climate change and extreme events, using the resilience framework to examine smallholder farmers’ decisions in Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia. The focus is on the use of diverse crops and crop switching as a strategy, including an examination of the seed- and knowledge-sharing networks that facilitate this.
Research concerns regional cooperation between Hong Kong and the Pearl-River Delta Region in response to climate change, with a focus on the cross-border emissions trading scheme. This includes an examination of the scheme's operational effectiveness, regulatory framework, and social, political and economic implication, aiming at providing advice for enhancement of the scheme by drawing on experiences of comparable schemes in the world.
Research aims to empirically investigate the long-run impacts of clean development mechanism (CDM) projects and the advance of renewable energy on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions for China over the last 15 to 30 years. Utilising regression, it seeks to answer the question of why private investors should invest in clean renewable technology and foster developing countries to effectively develop CDM projects towards low carbon development.
Research is on the impact of the financial crisis on Portuguese policy towards the renewable energy sector and how legal and economic impositions by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, will affect the sustainability of renewable energy programmes in the country. The results will provide policy suggestions to enhance the sustainability and economic viability of the renewable energy sector in Portugal.
Nicolas is doing research in the impact and the technologies needed to deliver Zero Carbon Offices, through a life cycle analysis of the options available to derive optimum solutions for
achieving 'net zero carbon' initiatives, and the future technological trends in the sector.
Research is developing a model for projecting energy and emissions from the English residential sector using an integrated systems approach to the challenge of decarbonising the residential sector. This includes combining engineering and economic methods to determine the most appropriate decarbonisation pathways, allowing comparison of future scenarios and the effects different pathways will have on society and in particular carbon emissions.
Research investigated the potential for climate change policies to drive industrial practices from end-of-pipe solutions to pollution prevention. Taking a case study of a base metal’s production processes, the scope included identifying opportunities for carbon dioxide reductions and co-benefits of environmental protection as well as understanding the decision structure behind current practices in order to develop a policy framework to motivate the change.
Research evaluted water resources management through direct economic valuation using a comparative case study of the rivers Rhine and Evros. The aim was to assist in the design of efficient, equitable and sustainable policies for water resources management of rivers, with environmental problems such as pollution, flood risk, intensive land use in agriculture and climate change. The direct valuation methodology was used to provide recommendations for policy.
Research was into the effectiveness of policy approaches to transportation mode choice and emission reduction, using a case study of King County, Washington (USA). Focus was on the potential for community-based social marketing to change transportation behaviour and reduce emissions in conjunction with traditional transportation policy approaches, expanding understanding of the relationship between social norms and travel behavior.
Research assessed the feasibility of implementing second-generation biofuel technology in the UK to meet the liquid fuel from renewables mandatory requirement set by the Renewable Fuel Agency (RFA) to support the transport system. Focus was on the land-use implications of such technology and its potential benefits in comparison to current first-generation technology.
Research assessed how Chilean retail companies perform in terms of sustainability, using a framework of assessment developed from a review of different methodologies developed internationally. From this review, a methodology suited to the developing country context in which Chilean companies operate was created and applied to a case study in order to establish a sustainable pathway for the retail sector.
Research focused on how secondary health benefits from GHG reductions compare against negative long-term climate change health effects. Data were collected from epidemiological studies from which estimates will be made of the related costs in each case. Personal exposure assessment measures were used to infer potential global health effects and thus produce recommendations for policy.
Research examined the ability for domestic based energy efficiency measures to contribute to the UK's legal commitments to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Particular attention was focussed on the role of the UK Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) programme as a policy instrument in these reductions. She was a Land Economy undergraduate student from Murray Edwards College.
Research focused on the effects of renewable energy on indicators of energy intensity, using econometric models with global and regional data. This included an assessment of the statistical relationship between uptake of renewable energy in nations and the energy intensity of their economies, framed within a recognition that international climate change policy post-Kyoto requires a deeper understanding of the role of renewable energy in decarbonising economies.
Research is focused on analysis of the opportunities for the implementation of the supported Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) for Energy-Efficiency Measures in the Mexican Residential Building. The study is oriented to identify the potential constraints for the effective implementation of NAMA, including technological, institutional, information and financial/market barriers, and developing a proposal on how these barriers can be overcome.
Other participating clusters of students: