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18 September 2012

Policy work important in Mistra’s new climate programme

How to create an effective climate policy outside the broken-down international negotiations is the theme of Mistra Indigo. One cornerstone of this research programme is close dialogue with decision-makers. As part of the programme, a policy seminar is being held in Brussels.

The Mistra Indigo research programme started at New Year 2012. It sets out to analyse economic incentives and control instruments in climate policy. The researchers will work close to decision-makers in politics, public agencies and the business sector.

Åsa Löfgren, a researcher in economics at the University of Gothenburg and scientific coordinator of the programme, explains:
– To us, the foundation is Mistra’s earlier initiative, Clipore. But hopes of a far-reaching international agreement being attainable were greater then. We’re now focusing on what is happening at national level and how activities under way there could be connected satisfactorily and prevented from working against any possible future international agreement.

Focus on four dynamic areas

The research programme is headed by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute in cooperation with the University of Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law and the American Resources for the Future research centre in Washington DC. It has four main areas of research: how carbon trading systems and pricing can be designed; the distribution effects of climate research among various stakeholders; the interplay between climate policy and technological development; and the role of industry in combating climate change.

– It’s a dynamic area where there’s a great deal going on. Activities at national level range from devising new standards for vehicle emissions to systems of trading rights for carbon emissions and investment contributions for various climate initiatives.

Seven specific research projects have started in the four areas. To enable the programme to be adapted in line with developments abroad, Åsa Löfgren and the other members of the programme management have tried to find a model in which there are only two permanent researchers at the three partner institutions.
‘They’ll then recruit more researchers for assignments of varying length, depending on what needs arise,’ she says. ‘For example, we could engage a political scientist if we find that doing so is required for an interesting research angle in a project.’

Dialogue with research target groups

Another key requirement is to succeed in communicating the results to the right target groups, Here, Clipore was successful and Mistra Indigo is building further on that experience. One way of doing so is by arranging various policy seminars about current research. The first is to be held in Brussels in October, in cooperation with the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

– Trying to move forward with combining creative research and policy activities will be an enjoyable challenge. One new approach we’re trying, to get information that’s relevant for policy, is to issue white papers in various research fields. In these, we also raise our sights to include other research outside the programme. Here, the dialogue with our Programme Board is important for finding areas of interest to decision-makers and the business sector.
At the seminar in Brussels, delegates from Indigo will present research on short-lived greenhouse gases, US climate policy, sustainable growth and ways of linking different carbon trading systems.