Michelle Lyons's picture

Michelle Lyons


Contact details

PhD programme


Supervisor(s) and panel members

Topic title

Banking on Paris: Public investment governance and evaluation in the transition to net zero emissions

Topic description

Meeting the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement has shifted from being primarily a question of technological capability to one of scaling-up technology investments. Reaching net zero emissions requires massive public and private investments across all emissions sectors, estimated at USD$275 trillion by 2050 (McKinsey, 2022). These investments need to facilitate rapid decarbonisation, accelerate electrification, and develop negative emissions technologies in hard-to-decarbonise sectors. The next decade is a critical phase of the investment transition as the world moves towards the temperature thresholds set out in the Paris Agreement and the physical impacts of climate change increase.

But how do public actors define and evaluate what constitutes an effective public investment in the transition to net zero emissions? Traditionally, quantitative metrics such as the total value of investment commitments, private sector leverage ratios, and emissions reductions have been used by public banks seeking to evaluate investments in clean energy technologies. However, relying on these metrics alone fails to account for important non monetary co-benefits of investments such as technology innovation, knowledge spillovers and social equity improvements.

This thesis explores the roles of public banks in the transition to net zero emissions, with a focus on implications for Australian policymakers. Underpinned by value theory, decision theory and innovation theory it explores multiple dimensions of the investment transition to net zero and the risks and opportunities it provides.


White, L. V., Hughes, L., Lyons, C., Peng, Y., 2021. Iterating localisation policies in support of energy transition: The case of the Australian Capital Territory. Energy Policy 158, 112568.

Beck, F.J., Gourlay, D., Lyons, C., Venkataraman, M.B., “the Hydrogen Economy” in Baldwin, K., Howden, M., Smith, M., Hussey, K., & Dawson, P. (Eds.). (2021). Transitioning to a Prosperous, Resilient and Carbon-Free Economy: A Guide for Decision-Makers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316389553

Scholarships and fellowships

2019 Zero Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific Grand Challenge J W Land Fellowship

2021 Sir Roland Wilson PhD Scholarship

Mailing address

Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
J.G. Crawford Building No. 132
Lennox Crossing
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

Updated:  4 February 2023/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team