SWEEEP: A pan-institute Series of Webinars in Environmental and Energy Economics and Policy

SWEEEP: A pan-institute Series of Webinars in Environmental and Energy Economics and Policy


Environmental, energy, and ecological problems have grown faster than their solutions. Economists have an important role to play to address these issues by using the latest science, rigorous methods and innovative policy solutions. The SWEEEP webinar series aims to convene the academic community to contribute to the scientific, economic, and policy discourses on important environmental and energy issues.

About the founding institutions

The European Institute on Economics and the Environment (eiee.org) is a partnership between Resources for the Future and Foundation CMCC. EIEE’s impartial economic and environmental research aims to facilitate the transition to a sustainable, inclusive society. Reference: Prof. Massimo Tavoni


The Energy Management research team at the Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) combines research on economics, strategic management, technology innovation and energy policy in order to create and share knowledge that will help society move towards a low-carbon future.

Reference: Prof. Sébastien Houde


The ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research is a leading German economic policy institute and a member of the Leibniz Association. ZEW’s applied research aims to study and help design well-performing markets and institutions in Europe. In particular, it seeks to understand how to create a market framework that will enable the sustainable and efficient development of European economies.

Reference: Prof. Sebastian Rausch


The Centre for Energy Policy and Economics (CEPE) was established in 1999 to complement the natural science and technical-oriented disciplines at ETH Zurich, by contributing to research and teaching in energy policy and economics.  Through rigorous application of modern empirical methods, the goal of CEPE is to make critical contributions to the design and evaluation of energy and climate policy instruments.

Reference: Prof. Massimo Filippini

Wednesday, 16 September 2020, 3.00-4.00 PM CET

Title: Enforcement in service delivery: Smart meters and the returns to electricity quality improvements

Speaker: Robyn Meeks, Duke University


Poor service quality and theft are challenges common to the electricity sector in developing countries. Smart meters provide additional information to both consumers and utilities, potentially mitigating these challenges. In a randomized experiment in Kyrgyzstan, smart meters replaced houses’ old meters. Post-intervention electricity service quality was significantly better among the treatment group relative to the control group. Consumers’ returns to electricity quality improvements were substantial. Treated households’ peak electricity consumption and expenditures on electric appliances increased, consistent with an improvement in consumer welfare. The utility benefits from the meters, via increased billed consumption and bill payment, albeit less than consumers do.

More info is available here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020, 3.00-4.00 PM CET

Title: Inequality, information failures and air pollution

Speaker: Catherine Hausmann, University of Michigan


Research spanning several disciplines has repeatedly documented disproportionate pollution exposure among the poor and communities of color. Among the various proposed causes of this pattern, those that have received the most attention are income inequality, discrimination, and firm costs (of inputs and regulatory compliance). We argue that an additional channel – information – is likely to play an important role in generating disparities in pollution exposure. We present multiple reasons for a tendency to underestimate pollution burdens, as well as empirical evidence that this underestimation can disproportionately affect low-income households. Using a model of housing choice, we then derive conditions under which “hidden” pollution leads to an inequality – even when all households face the same lack of information. This inequality arises because households sort according to known pollution and other disamenities, which we show are positively correlated with hidden pollution. To help bridge the gap between environmental justice and economics, we discuss the relationship between hidden information and three different distributional measures: exposure to pollution; exposure to hidden pollution; and welfare loss due to hidden pollution.

More info is available here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020, 3.00-4.00 PM CET

Title: Are economists getting climate dynamics right and does it matter?

Speaker: Simon Dietz, London School of Economics


We show that economic models of climate change produce climate dynamics inconsistent with current climate science models: (i) the delay between CO2 emissions and warming is much too long and (ii) positive carbon cycle feedbacks are mostly absent. These inconsistencies lead to biased economic policy advice. Controlling for how the economy is represented, different climate models result in significantly different optimal CO2 emissions. A long delay between emissions and warming leads to optimal carbon prices that are too low and attaches too much importance to the discount rate. Similarly, we find that omitting positive carbon cycle feedbacks leads to optimal carbon prices that are too low. We conclude it is important for policy purposes to bring economic models in line with the state of the art in climate science and we make practical suggestions for how to do so.

More info is available here.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020, 3.00-4.00 PM CET

Title: Use and Non-Use Value of Nature and the Social Cost of Carbon

Speaker: Frances Moore, UC Davis


Climate change is damaging ecosystems throughout the world with serious implications for human well-being. Quantifying the benefits of reducing emissions requires understanding these costs but the unique and non-market nature of many goods provided by natural systems makes them difficult to value. Detailed representation of ecological damages in models used to calculate the costs of greenhouse gas emissions has been largely lacking. Here we include natural capital as a form of wealth in a cost-benefit integrated assessment model and show that accounting for the use and non-use value of nature has large implications for climate policy. In our model, optimal emissions reach zero at the year 2050, limiting warming to 1.5◦C by the end of the century, substantially lower than the standard model, which approaches 3°C by 2100. We show that the cost of climate change could be alleviated by investments in natural capital and that capturing the effect of climate change on natural systems and the welfare effects of these changes should be a high priority for future research.

More info is available here

Wednesday, 21 October 2020, 3.00-4.00 PM CET

Title: Optimal fuel taxation with suboptimal health choices

Speaker: Linus Mattauch, U Oxford


Transport has a large number of significant externalities including carbon emissions, air pollution, accidents and congestion. Increased active travel such as cycling and walking can reduce these externalities. Moreover, public health research has identified large additional social gains from active travel due to health benefits of increased physical exercise. We introduce health benefits and active travel options into a model of transport externalities to study appropriate policy responses. We characterise the optimal second-best fuel tax analytically: when physical exercise is considered welfare-enhancing, the optimal fuel tax increases. Under our central assumptions, the increase is 34% in the US and 38% in the UK when health benefits from physical exercise are included. We argue that fuel taxes should be implemented jointly with other policies aimed at increasing the uptake of active travel to reap the full health benefits.

More info is available here.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020, 3.00-4.00 PM CET

Title: Mandatory Energy Efficiency Disclosure in Housing Markets

Speaker: Erica Myers, U Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Mandatory disclosure policies are implemented broadly despite sparse evidence that they improve market outcomes. We study the effects of requiring home sellers to provide buyers with certified audits of residential energy efficiency. Using similar nearby homes as a comparison group, we find this requirement increases price premiums for energy efficiency and encourages energy-saving investments. We additionally present evidence highlighting the market failure – incomplete information by both buyers and sellers – that prevents widespread voluntary disclosure of energy efficiency in housing transactions. Our findings support that disclosure policies can improve market outcomes in settings with symmetrically incomplete information.

More details will follow


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