Themes and projects

The Hub comprises numerous research projects addressing four key themes, each led by one of Australia’s top environmental economists:

A. Establishing viable markets to achieve environmental goals

Leader: Prof Quentin Grafton, ANU
Project Title Description

Consumption-based water pricing and price elasticities


Research project 1: Prof Quentin Grafton, ANU

Using daily water consumption data and causal variables, models will be developed to evaluate various consumption-based pricing scenarios on short and long-term urban water consumption.
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Economically efficient strategies for the conservation of Australian biodiversity

Research project 3: Dr Michael Ward, ANU

Development of a long-term ecological impact model, taking into account very fine-grained ecological data.
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Designing metric assessments for biodiversity tenders

Research project 4: Prof John Rolfe, CQU

Develop a non-market valuation study to assess community values for specific biometric components, allowing community weights for each component to be included in biometrics.
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B. Climate change analysis

Leader: Dr Frank Jotzo, ANU
Project Title Description
Adaptation and economic responses to climate change

Research project 10: Dr Frank Jotzo, ANU

Analyse economic system responses to climate change, identify options for adaptation, and assess transferability of Australian approaches to the Asia Pacific region.

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Improving Australia’s energy efficiency through faster development and adoption of technologies

Research project 11: Dr Frank Jotzo, ANU

This project's original scope in 2006 was to estimate short and long-run energy price elasticities and the extent of induced innovation in efficiency, hence the above title, but it has since been broadened to cover the economics of greenhouse gas control more generally.  The aim of this project is now to use economic analysis to find ways to lower the overall cost, and increase the overall effectiveness, of policy measures to control Australian greenhouse emissions - particularly the roughly three-quarters of emissions that is CO2 coming from burning fossil fuels - and to communicate these findings to policymakers.  Such research could be directed at any or all of three major market failures: the lack of a natural market for emission control in itself, and hence the need to study emission pricing; the poor functioning of the existing market for innovating lower emission technologies; and the poor functioning of existing markets for energy efficiency.

The project now consists of five sub-projects as listed below:

Modelling the International Diffusion of Carbon Intensity Reducing Technology

Research project 11 A: Dr David Stern, ANU

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Australia and international climate change mitigation commitments: applying game theory

Research project 11 B: Dr Peter J. Wood, ANU

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Potential Interactions between the Australian 20% Renewable Energy Target and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme within the Australian National Electricity Market

Research project 11 C: Dr Regina Betz, UNSW

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Design of climate change mitigation policy

Research project 11 D: Dr Frank Jotzo, ANU

Climate change mitigation policy needs to be well designed in order to be cost effective, and societally acceptable. The development of a comprehensive climate change policy regime in Australia, including through carbon pricing, throws up complex issues of incentives, distribution and the political economy of climate change mitigation. These need to be taken into account in economic mechanism design.

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Household Preferences for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in Australia

Research project 11 E: Sonia Akter, ANU

The project aims to investigate the role that uncertainty plays in determining household willingness to pay for climate change policy in Australia.

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Socio-economics of on-farm renewable energy

Research project 12: Prof Tor Hundloe, Griffith U

Identify economic and environmental costs and benefits with the utilisation of biomass, in particular in the dairy and corn industries, to produce electricity by cogeneration and distil ethanol.

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C. Advancing Australia’s capability for social and economic analysis of environmental issues at the regional scale

Leader: Dr Tom Kompas, ANU
Project Title Description
Designing marine reserves for biodiversity and sustainable fisheries

Research project 5: Professor Quentin Grafton, ANU

Examination of the theory and practical implication of combining marine reserves with fisheries management tools

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Salinity, uncertainty and property rights

Research project 9: Prof Kevin Fox, UNSW

Assessment of the impacts of uncertainty on decisions regarding incentive schemes for salinity abatement.

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Designing environmental policy for Australia from an economic and social perspective

Research project 13: Dr Regina Betz, UNSW

Develop environmental policy options that deliver efficient, effective and operational outcomes taking imperfect information, uncertainty, transaction cost, complex property rights situations, imperfect competition as well as social and behavioural aspects into account.

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The benefits and costs of biosecurity

Research project 14: Dr Tom Kompas, ANU

An economic evaluation of measures to protecting Australia’s environment from imported pests and diseases.

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D. Valuing environmental goods and services

Leader: Prof John Rolfe, CQU
Project Title Description
Estimating protection values at general and case study levels

Research project 2: Prof John Rolfe, CQU

Testing different approaches to specifying environmental benefits for specific protection actions in forms that are useful to policy makers.

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Environmental values and valuation over time

Research project 6: Prof Jeff Bennett, ANU

Analyse changes in environmental preferences in the Australian community over time using quantitative and qualitative methods.

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Community Values for Catchment Management

Research project 7: Prof Jeff Bennett, ANU

Non-market valuation techniques employed to aid the development of efficient natural resource management policies.

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Divergence between public and expert valuation of environmental assets

Research project 8: Prof Michael Burton, UWA

Identifies differences between public and expert preferences for environmental assets within various systems that capture differences in scale and setting.

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E. Emerging Research and other Projects

Project Title Description
Learning from the Irrational: A study of Environmental Preferences

Research project 15: Dr. Ralf Steinhauser, ANU

Empirical examination of peoples preferences for environmental goods or services and explanation of possibly existing non-rational patterns.

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Project Title Description
Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Agricultural Sector

Research project 16: Dr. Emma Aisbett, ANU

This project looks at how functioning ecosystems in the vicinity of agricultural production plots can provide a range of ecosystems goods and services that act as implicit inputs to agricultural commodity production.

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Project Title Description
Enhancing the role of social and environmental valuation in residential putrescible waste policy in Australia

Research project 17: Prof Jeff Bennett, ANU

This research will focus on determining these broader yet less readily observable social costs and benefits as applied to the disposal of residential putrescible waste in Australia. To develop understanding of these values, the research will use stated preference techniques known as choice experiments which ask individuals to state their preferences among the different policy options. Variation in the attribute levels, e.g., cost, within and across scenarios, imposes tradeoffs, which allow statistical models to be estimated. These models are then used to quantify individuals' values for the different aspects of waste disposal options.

Project Title Description
Toward understanding community values for biodiversity in temperate marine protected areas

Research project 18: Prof Jeff Bennett, ANU

A number of the world's marine ecosystems are under significant environmental stress as result of human actions including, but not limited to, commercial fishing practices, agricultural runoff, and pollution. A consequence has been the loss of biodiversity. This trend appears likely to continue without intervention. Improving or maintaining biodiversity over current levels has costs. The important question becomes whether the benefits of preserving biodiversity outweigh the costs, and more precisely, what is the optimal level of biodiversity. This research will specifically focus on generating understanding of the benefits which accrue to community members from biodiversity in marine protected areas in Southeastern Australia.

Project Title Description
Heritage valuation

Research project 19: Prof David Throsby, Macquarie University

The objective of the project is to determine a methodology for a long-term study to estimate the use and non-use values of various attributes of historic heritage places. The outcome of the long-term study will be to provide a set of transferable monetary estimates of the values of various attributes of historic heritage places, for use in the design of Government policies and programs.

Development of the methodology will be the first stage of a larger research program, comprising four stages - (i) development of methodology, (ii) development of the survey(s), (iii) collection of data and (iv) analysis of data.

Project Title Description
Value of biological collections

Research project 20: Prof Jeff Bennett, ANU

Australia's collections of biodiversity, including those of Botanic Gardens, Universities, CSIRO etc are diverse and geographically scattered. Their futures are less than assured given funding restrictions and the high costs of maintenance. This project aims to investigate the benefits that could be achieved by managing these collections in different ways. These alternatives will include various types of electronic cataloguing to enable the transaction costs of accessing the collections to be lowered. The goal is to provide government with information that will enable the formulation of improved policies for the management of the collections.

Updated:  10 March 2015/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement /Page Contact:  CAP Web Team