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Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and the Victoria University Institute for Government and Policy Studies are pleased to announce a series of four talks to be held in February. All are open to the public, and feature selected topics in environmental economics.



Monday 16th of February: Back-to-back Public Policy Seminars

How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Really Save? Evidence from California
Arik Levinson, Professor, Georgetown University and Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, U.S.A.

DATE: Monday 16 February 2015
TIME: 12:00 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.
VENUE: Adam Auditorium, City Gallery, Civic Square.

Construction codes that regulate the energy-efficiency of new buildings have been a centerpiece of US environmental policy for 40 years. California’s 1970’s-era building codes were projected to reduce residential energy use by 80 percent. How effective have they been? I take three approaches to answering that question. First, I compare current electricity use by California homes of different vintages constructed under different standards, controlling for home size, local weather, and tenant characteristics. Second, I examine how electricity in California homes varies with outdoor temperatures for buildings of different vintages. And third, I compare electricity use for buildings of different vintages in California, which enacted the nation’s first and most stringent building energy codes, to electricity use for buildings of different vintages in other states. All three approaches yield the same answer – there is very little evidence that buildings constructed more recently in California use less electricity.

Arik Levinson is a professor in the Economics Department of Georgetown University in the U.S.A., where he teaches microeconomics, public finance and environmental economics. His recent work has focused on environmental policy, including analysis of energy efficiency regulations, and research into the efficacy of linking international environmental agreements to trade policy. Arik is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and has served as a co-Editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, a member of the EPA’s Environmental Economics Advisory Committee, a Senior Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisors, and a Gilbert White Fellow at Resources for the Future.

Adopting a Cleaner Technology: The Effect of Driving Restrictions on Fleet Turnover
Juan-Pablo Montero, Professor, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

DATE: Monday 16 February 2015
TIME: 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.
VENUE: Adam Auditorium, City Gallery, Civic Square.

In an effort to reduce vehicle pollution and congestion and persuade drivers to give up their cars in favor of public transport, authorities in different cities have experimented with different forms of driving restrictions. The restrictions implemented in the early 90s in Mexico City and in Santiago, Chile, for example, ban the use of a car once a week based on the last digit of its license plate, unless the car is equipped with a lower-emission technology (catalytic converter), in which case it is exempt from the restriction. Evidence from Santiago's program shows that such an exemption can have a large effect on fleet turnover towards cleaner cars. It also shows that households no longer bypass the restriction by purchasing a second high-emitting car, which has been observed in other restriction programs, but rather by moving forward the purchase of a lower-emission vehicle. We also develop a vertical-differentiation model to study how best to design these driving restriction policies. Calibrating the model's parameters using Santiago evidence, we find that a well-designed driving restriction can deliver close to 70% of the welfare gains that obtain from implementing the first-best. This is important because these restriction policies are becoming increasingly popular not only in Latin America (Sao Paulo, Bogota, San Jose, Quito) but also in other regions (Shanghai, Tianjin), so there are good reasons to see them as effective and politically feasible instruments to deal with carbon emissions from vehicles, as opposed to more expensive (and often less effective) policies such as subsidies to the early removal of old cars (i.e., scrappage subsidies) or subsidies to the purchase of new, low-emission vehicles.

Juan-Pablo Montero is a professor of economics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He has also been a visiting professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2001-2002) and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2005-2006). His research and teaching are concentrated in the areas of resource and environmental economics, and industrial organization. His work has appeared in the Journal of Political Economy, American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Theory, RAND Journal of Economics, The Economic Journal, and others. He has also been a consultant in antitrust and environmental policy for government agencies and private corporations in Chile and abroad.


Tuesday 17th of February: Public Seminar co-hosted by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute.

Mitigation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture: Potential, Abatement Costs, and Implications for the Cost-Effectiveness of Policy Instruments 
Stephane De Cara, French National Institute for Agricultural Research, and Andy Reisinger, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre

DATE: Tuesday 17 February 2015
TIME: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
VENUE: The Old Government House, Room GBLT1

This talk will feature Stephane De Cara speaking about his work on greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the context of the French agricultural sector. Andy Reisinger will be a discussant, and comment on the links within Stephane's work that can be applied to the New Zealand context.

Stephane De Cara is a researcher at the French National Institute of Agricultrual Research (INRA). He specialises in climate change mitigation, with a particular focus on the agricultural sector. His recent research has focused on emissions reduction through the use of biofuels, land use change, and changes in agricultural industry practices. Stephane has previously worked on agricultural economics at Iowa State University in the U.S.A. In 2006 he received INRA's Young Researcher award for his work.

Andy Reisinger is a Deputy Director at the NZAGRC, and he has previously worked with the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute. Andy is a Coordinating Lead Author for the International Panel for Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), and is a New Zealand representative for the Global Research Alliance Livestock Research Group. He has previously worked for the Ministry for the Environment as Senior Adviser on climate change, and for the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change in the UK and in India.


You may have also already received an invitation to our first, earlier talk:

Back from the Dead? Australia's Climate Policy
Frank Jotzo, Associate Professor and Public Policy Fellow, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

DATE: Monday 9 February 2015
TIME: 12:30–2pm
VENUE: Adam Auditorium, City Gallery, Civic Square.

If you did not receive that invitation, or would like more information, please let us know.

Please feel free to pass this invitation on to others who may be interested. You can subscribe to email notifications of Motu's events and publications here

Motu Public Policy Seminars are free to the public. No registration is required; you can simply turn up on the day. Click here for more information on previous and upcoming seminars.
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PO Box 24390
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