Environment / climate / energy

Climate policy

NCCR Climate

From April 2005 until the end of 2012, our lab participated in the NCCR “climate”, which allowed it to develop its activities on the assessment of international climate policies, the economic consequences of measures taken to reduce CO2 emissions by Switzerland, adaptation measures in tourism and the water sector and the acceptance of these measures. See our dedicated website: http://nccr-climate.epfl.ch. (2005-2012)


Tocsin=a signal of alarm given by the ringing of a bell, and hence any warning or danger signal (Wikipedia)
TOCSIN=Technology-Oriented Cooperation and Strategies in India and China: Reinforcing the EU dialogue with Developing Countries on Climate Change Mitigation
Our lab coordinated a vast research project on international post-Kyoto climate policy, with special emphasis on India and China and on technology transfert. It was a European research project of 30 months financed under FP6. More information. (2007-2009)


Enhancing Robustness and Model Integration for The Assessment of Global Environmental Change
From 2011 to 2013, our lab was a partner of the FP7 European research project ERMITAGE. This project i) developped interdisciplinary modelling tools and platforms to address the interactions between natural and socio-economic systems in the assessment of climate policies, ii) handled uncertainties in overall integrated assessments and iii) implemented adaptation and damage costs in economic models. The consortium was led by Open University and included University of East Anglia, University of Manchester, ORDECSYS, EPFL, ENERIS and Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. (2011-2013)


Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project
This is Switzerland’s contribution to the international DDPP. For more info, go to this page. (2014-2016)

Effectiveness of Swiss climate policy

Under this heading, we carried out several studies on the impact of the CO2 tax or all the measures taken in the context of climate and energy policy on Switzerland’s greenhouse gas emissions, in particular energy-related CO2. For more info, go to this page. (2014-2017)

Emissions scenarios 1990 to 2030 for Switzerland

The aim of the study for the Federal office for the environment was to create a scenario for the development of CO2 emissions from 1990 to 2030 that shows the uninfluenced development (without emission reduction policy measures since 1990). This scenario was compared with the emission development with emission reduction measures implemented, i.e. with actual CO2 emissions data between 1990 and the latest date available (2015). Next, CO2 emissions were predicted up to 2030 on the basis of scenarios without measures and with current emission reduction measures. (2015-2017)


EU Calculator: Trade-offs and pathways towards sustainable and low-carbon European societies
EUCalc is part of the topic “Managing technology transition” of Horizon 2020. It prepares a much needed comprehensive framework for the appraisal of synergies and trade-offs of feasible decarbonisation pathways on the national scale of Europe and its member countries + Switzerland. Our contribution focuses on the employment effects of the energy transition. (2016-2020)


Shrinking Housing’s Environmental Footprint
The main goal of this project – one of the 25 projects retained in NRP 73 “Sustainable Economy” – is to identify and promote practical measures that dwellers, property owners and public authorities can implement to reduce the use of primary resources and the environmental impacts of housing, that is, shrinking housing’s environmental footprint (SHEF). These measures cover the construction, use, and refurbishment phases of buildings. They must be effective while preserving the social and economic qualities of housing: liveability, affordability, full cost coverage or return on investment. (2017-2021)


Delivering on the Paris Agreement: A demand-driven, integrated assessment modelling approach
This Horizon 2020 project, aims to underpin climate policymaking with authoritative scientific processes and results, and enhance the science-policy interface, in light of the Paris Agreement and associated challenges. In particular, the aim is to develop a novel, demand-driven, IAM-oriented assessment framework for effectively supporting the design and assessment of climate policies in the EU as well as in other major emitters and selected less emitting/developed countries, in respect to the Paris Agreement objectives. (2019-2022)


Green taxes
The Public Acceptance of Green Taxes, article in the April 2004 Public Choice Journal, pp. 179-217

Voluntary Approaches in Climate Policy


Impacts of climate change and adaptation

Integrated economic modeling of adaptation to climate changes

The objective of this research project for the Federal Office for the Environment was to model adaptation to climate changes in GEMINI-E3, the world economic model of our lab, with emphasis on Switzerland and the following sectors: agriculture, tourism, energy, and infrastructures. A climatic module was added to the model, as well as as an explicit description of adaptation to climate changes. This allows studying the economic incidences of climate changes as well as the effects of the adaptation to these changes and its costs and benefits. (2009-2012)


Swiss Database of Climate Change Impacts
We created this open inventory of research on the future impacts of climate change in Switzerland. It is freely accessible at URL: http://swidchi.epfl.ch/. Everybody can propose new entries. (2008-2014)


Costs of climate change impacts
We have been working for several years on estimating the economic consequences of climate change for Switzerland. It has produced several reports. The main goal of this new research program financed by the Federal Office for the Environment was to bundle, update and complete these earlier assessments with a view to producing a full picture of the economic consequences of climate change impacts in Switzerland by 2050. Secondary goals were developments of the methodology, improvements of the simulation models, and updating of the SWIDCHI-Database of the literature on climate change impacts in Switzerland. The results of this research were useful for the Federal office for the environment (FOEN) in developing the federal adaptation strategy and in preparing the consultation documents for the next revision of the CO2 Act. Report. (2014-2017)


Climate Change Extremes and Adaptation Strategies considering Uncertainty and Federalism
Sinergia research programme, in partnership with economists, hydrologists and geographers from the Universities of Berne and Basel. Our contribution consisted in integrating flood risks into a computable general equilibrium economic simulation model. (2014-2018)


Energy / electricity


Electricity markets and trade in Switzerland and its neighbouring countries: Building a coupled techno-economic modeling framework
Switzerland lacks an economic simulation framework which allows for a suitable consideration of international electricity trade in the analysis of energy and climate policies as well as electricity supply scenarios. The goal of the ELECTRA project, funded by the Federal office of energy, was to build such an integrated bottom up – top down framework. (2011-2015)


Social cushioning of energy price increases and public acceptance
This project investigated distributional and other effects of energy price increases and the acceptability of social cushioning measures. It also investigated how social cushioning and other measures can increase the acceptability of policy-induced energy price increases. (2012-2016)


Endogenous energy efficiency improvement
Future energy use depends on energy efficiency improvement (EEI). In standard analyses of Swiss energy and climate policies, the speed and extent of EEI is usually assumed to be unaffected even by policies designed to foster innovation. This project, funded by the Federal office of energy, introduces endogenous EEI and barriers to innovation into a complete simulation model of the Swiss economy and shows what difference that makes for energy policies in housing and one industry sector, the cement industry. (2017-2020)

Beyond efficiency

Harnessing threshold effects for long term energy reductions

The research, funded by the Ambizione Program of the SNF, takes place in the context of the energy transition in Europe, with the broad objectives of energy efficiency and decarbonization. It consists in evaluating the main factors influencing energy efficiency at the level of economic activities, in particular contrasting technical improvements in energy use and non-technical aspects as a result of structural changes in the economy. The research project will quantify direct and indirect energy use, including embodied energy in products (goods and services) to estimate consumption based energy balances. Specific tasks include: (1) Decomposition of energy efficiency over time at a relatively detailed level. (2) Identification and quantification of possible thresholds in energy consumption per activity. (2018-2020)


Energy in buildings

Green building financing, certification and valuation

Green building certification is often seen as a means for clean technology diffusion and enhanced energy efficiency. In this part of his doctoral thesis, Philippe Bélanger examined certified green building investment in Switzerland. First, he examined the actual valuation process on the property market and the extent to which it includes the energy performance of buildings. Next, he defined how high performance buildings should be valued, taking specifically into account forecasts for future energy prices and the option of different energy mixes. This allowed for the investigation of the link between the value of energy savings and the premium paid for green certified buildings in Switzerland. (2010-2014)

Analysis of barriers to the energy refurbishment of buildings in the canton of Vaud

This study, carried out with E4Tech in 2014, made it possible (1) to understand why property owners in the canton of Vaud have relatively little recourse to the federal government’s Building Program, which subsidises energy renovation measures, and (2) to propose measures to remedy this situation. Report (in French). (2007-2014)


Optimizing the energy renovation of a large housing stock based on empirical data
To invest in the energy efficiency of buildings creates a financial risk due to the difference between theoretical and actual cash flows. This project develops a planning tool to control this risk. First of all, we quantify the impact of improvements on energy consumption and rents. Next, we create a new module for the software InvestImmo modeling the real cash flow from the buildings and optimizing investments. (2017-2019)