Laboratory of Environmental and Urban Economics – LEURE
“Environmental … Economics” in LEURE refers to our courses and research on sustainable development and on environmental and climate policies. “Urban Economics” in LEURE (or LEUrE) refers to our courses and research on land, real estate and housing markets and on policies that apply to these markets.
- Modelling and assessing environmental policies, in particular for climate mitigation and adaptation
- Analysing the land, real estate and housing markets and their policies
- Developing and teaching property valuation methods
Some current projects
Policy mix for full decarbonisation by 2050
We interpret the Federal Government’s new climate policy goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 as implying essentially zero CO2 emissions from energy. The existing and planned sets of policies in the fields of energy, transportation, buildings, waste, etc. are not sufficient for full decarbonisation − hence the search for stronger and for novel instruments. These can be particularly effective and more acceptable if they are combined with a view to reinforcing their effects and conveying a coherent message to energy users. We will identify possible instruments and show how they can be combined to attain carbon-free energy in 2050. We estimate the distributional effects and acceptability of these policy designs. Project funded by the Federal office of energy. (2020-2024)
Delivering the next generation of open Integrated Assessment MOdels for Net-zero, sustainable Development
Recent literature has underlined the interplay among climate mitigation, adaptation, and finance, as well as between climate action and other development agendas, including sustainable resource use, human development and equity, and environmental pressures. Such an interconnected policy environment requires an integrated ecosystem of disciplines, methods, and tools. Despite the significant evolution of integrated assessment models (IAMs) in the last decade, there remain several criticisms on their design, use, and adequacy to respond to unaddressed and emerging questions in the light of the Paris Agreement and net-zero ambition. These include openness, legitimacy, and ownership, as well as technical feasibility to represent demand-side and broader societal transformations, cross-sectoral interactions, physical impacts and adaptation, climate finance and labour dynamics, and other sustainability goals.
DIAMOND allows updating, upgrading, and fully opening six IAMs that are emblematic in scientific and policy processes, of which our own IAM (GEMINI-E3), improving their sectoral and technological detail, spatiotemporal resolution, and geographic granularity. This further enhances modelling capacity to assess the feasibility and desirability of Paris-compliant mitigation pathways, their interplay with adaptation, circular economy, and other SDGs, their distributional and equity effects, and their resilience to extremes, as well as robust risk management and investment strategies. This is done via integration of tools and insights from psychology, finance research, behavioural and labour economics, operational research, and physical science. We develop a transdisciplinary scientific approach to legitimise the implementation process and co-create research questions that stretch the frontiers of climate science, as well as establish vibrant communities of practice to transparently open model enhancements and to develop capacities, thereby lowering the entrance barriers to the established IAM community. Research program funded by HORIZON EUROPE. (2022-2026)
Sustainable Pathways of Environmental and Energy Development towards Net Zero Switzerland
The purpose of this research program is to develop toolboxes, action plans and technology to enable a sustainable transformation to a net zero greenhouse gas and biodiversity-positive Switzerland. Solutions will target immediate action conducive to halving GHG emissions by 2030, developing the required infrastructure, ensuring a resilient energy system, and securing biodiversity. Ultimately, SPEED2ZERO will further promote the ETH domain as a key honest broker in these thematic areas and provide credible transition pathways to Swiss society and politics.
The specific contribution of LEURE is to extend a city calculator with equations that describe the interactions between energy supply, climate impact and biodiversity. This will allow simulating the consequences of a variety of lifestyle changes and local policies. Programme funded as a joint initiative of the ETH Domain. (2023-2025)
From Farm to Fork and beyond
A Systemic Approach for Implementing True Cost Accounting for Food in Switzerland
Food systems are major contributors to detrimental environmental, social, and health impacts globally. The transformation of food systems has been widely recognised as necessary to meet Agenda 2030 by reconciling growing food demand with reduced environmental and health impacts while coping with increasing climate, economic, and political shocks. True cost accounting for food (TCAF) – measuring social, environmental, and health impacts in monetary terms – has been put forward as a holistic approach for transforming food systems.
The mission of the project is to contribute to the transformation of the Swiss food system by providing more comprehensive information about true cost accounting (TCA) for food. The project makes a proof of concept which will be discussed and tested with the Swiss food system’s stakeholders. The project aims at understanding TCAF holistically in the Swiss context, by embedding the different stakeholders involved and the impacts of the Swiss food system on society. It identifies interdependencies and levers for change at different levels, including policy-making, the private sector, consumers, and public health, and the dynamic effects of possible TCAF interventions across the system. Eventually, the project would shed light on the multifunctionality of food and ease the shift of incentives towards healthier and more sustainable food for all. This project is funded by SNF Sinergia. (2024-2027)