Research Highlights from the GGKP’s Sixth Annual Conference – Q&A with Ulrike Kornek

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Post-docMercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)
20 November 2018
Event Updates

From 27-28 November 2018, the GGKP's Sixth Annual Conference will be held in conjunction with the OECD's 2018 Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum (GGSD) on the theme of "Inclusive solutions for the green transition: Competitiveness, jobs/skills and social dimensions" in Paris, France.   

Ulrike Kornek, Post-doc in the Governance group of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, will present her paper, 'Is prioritization possible? Experts’ perceptions of obstacles and responses to staying below 2°C', at the conference on 29 November in Session J: Perceptions of Green Growth Policies.

1) Please briefly describe the topic and conclusion of your research.

We present quantitative evidence on how experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) perceive the importance of a wide range obstacles and responses for climate change mitigation.

We find that while individual importance ratings of key issues vary substantially by expert, the majority of experts perceive a wide range of obstacles and responses to be of high importance. This supports the idea that a research and policy agenda should be inclusive in terms of issue coverage. We also found that experts generally consider opposition from special interest groups to be the most pressing obstacle, as well technological research and development.

We find that average importance ratings are partly influenced by an underrepresentation of experts from the Global South, and stress that more balanced representation would affect agenda setting in international scientific and policy fora. Upon examining drivers behind different importance ratings, we find that experts’ perceptions correlate with their academic training and their experience with domestic scientific, regulatory, technical, and financial capacities. Surprisingly little difference occurs between scientists in the IPCC and policymakers in the UNFCCC.

2) What are the key policy messages/implications?

Our data show that most of the obstacles and responses included in the study are widely perceived to be very important. Based on these findings, we conclude that a global agenda for climate research and policy should include many key issues. The Paris Agreement, which covers a wide range of topics, is a case in point, and our research underpins that the broad scope of the Agreement is well-justified from the perspective of research and policy expert groups.

We also observe that while individual importance ratings vary significantly in statistical terms, from a substantive perspective they vary very little. From this we conclude that prioritization is possible, but difficult. Given that regional and country-specific factors are shown to be the strongest influences on importance ratings, we argue that tailoring climate agendas to regional or national needs might be useful beyond global agendas such as  the IPCC and UNFCCC. In particular, our analysis hints at how characteristics such as the scientific, regulatory, technical and financial capacities of countries shape regional or national priorities towards decarbonization.

3) Which session are you interested in attending at the at the conference/forum and why?

I am particularly interested in Session 3 “Social impacts of the green transition”. As we are moving towards more stringent climate policy, the distribution of costs and benefits are a critical determinant to the overall success of a green transition. This research topic has received too little attention, especially in economics literature, and I am looking forward to learning about what is already known and where there are knowledge gaps.

4) What are the next steps for your research?

I will be working on distributional aspects of climate change and climate policy, especially carbon taxation, from a multi-level governance perspective and the resulting incentives of different agents to pursue ambitious climate change mitigation. Game-theoretic aspects will play a critical role in the analysis of global provision of public goods.

5) What are the opportunities for collaboration around this issue?

I especially want to learn more about the research of other scholars on the social impacts of the green transition.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the GGKP or its Partners.