Research Projects

The Wealth Project

GDP continues to be useful as a short-term tool but it fails to inform critical decisions that determine our way forward for decades to come. By looking at wealth, we can take stock of the total economic value of a country's capital assets. To achieve a more complete and reliable picture, the Wealth Project is developing a national wealth accounting system as a supplementary metric to GDP. The project brings together leading economists, practitioners and decision-makers in building consensus and momentum. You can find videos from our conference and more information on the project here:

Carbon Budget

To stabilise climate change and limit global warming, net CO2 emissions must reach zero, as acknowledged in the Paris agreement. The cumulative CO2 emitted by the time we reach zero emissions will determine peak warming. We have not yet consumed the carbon budgets for a 1.5°C or 2°C warming scenario. However, much of the remaining budget is already baked-in by existing capital stock that will emit for many years to come. We undertake research on remaining carbon budgets to identify potential stranded assets given various sensitivities. This provides stark choices for different decarbonisation pathways. The goal of the research is to identify implications for corporate decision makers, financial investors, and policy makers.

Post-Carbon Transition

Modern human civilisation has been built upon energy from carbon-intensive fossil fuels. We are now on the cusp of a once-in-a-civilisation transition to a post- carbon society. The outcome of this transition could be a world that is cleaner, safer, smarter, more technologically advanced, and more prosperous. But the transition will necessarily involve structural transformation in many economic sectors. Doing more of the same will not achieve this.

In contrast, identifying positive 'tipping points' could help move global economic development firmly onto a zero carbon path. While there has been a great deal of research on catastrophic tipping points in the climate system, there has been relatively little on the positive tipping points in the potential societal response to climate change that might deliver accelerated action.

The potential of this programme is for a dramatic acceleration of the transition to a post-carbon society, through evidence-based technology policy, astute social interventions that are grounded in realistic psychology and a greater awareness of sensitive intervention points. The research will seek to provide a positive vision for those most likely to fear and attempt to resist or delay the transition, including governments, businesses and workers at risk of being 'stranded'.

See more on the Oxford Martin School website.

Economics of Energy Innovation Policy

What drives technology progress? By using a large database of patents and other data we will examine if it is possible to predict or accelerate the rate of technological progress. Our goal is to look at the implication for energy and sustainability policy. The project is funded by Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy, and the US Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative and developed in collaboration with Arizona State University and the University of North Carolina.

Predicability of Energy Technology Progress

In this project we are evaluating the predictability of technological progress in energy technologies. Using evidence from a range of different technologies, we are developing methods to produce distributional forecasts, showing not only the median prediction but also the uncertainty surrounding the future costs of energy technologies.

Carbon Pricing

Following the World Bank High-Level Commission into Carbon Prices, this project examines various economic and political acceptability aspects of carbon pricing - including carbon taxes, cap and trade, and hybrid mechanisms.

Natural Capital and Land Use Economics

In collaboration with the sponsor, The Nature Conservancy, the primary goal of the project is to understand the options for reaching a 1.5°C or 2°C temperature target, given existing committed cumulative emissions and the potential and limitations of land-based carbon sequestration. The research is likely to include analysis of the economics of global cumulative carbon budgets, the implications of such budgets for sequestration requirements, the economics of land-based sequestration compared to asset stranding, more rapid deployment of zero carbon technologies and other forms of sequestration, and the evidence base for different policy instruments that might deliver sequestration commensurate with 1.5°C or 2°C targets. We will also consider the context of the sustainable development goals, and specifically the potential competing demands on land, including food, habitats, and energy production, and the trade-offs and/or synergies between competing uses of land.