Congratulations to CANSEE’s own, Dr. Katya Rhodes for Research Grant on Decoupling.

This month Dr. Katya Rhodes was one of the four researchers awarded a $1,7 mln Swedish Research Council grant led by Dr. Malcolm Fairbrother at Umeå University, Sweden. The grant will provide funding for a five-year project titled “In search of decoupling: (How) can we combine climate sustainability with economic growth, good jobs, and public preferences?” The project questions whether economic growth inevitably increases greenhouse gas emissions—one of the most contentious debates within the climate research and environmental communities. Some are optimistic about opportunities for “green growth” and new jobs in less polluting industries; others reject that emissions can be sustainably “decoupled” from growth. This open question is one important reason for policymakers’ slow decision-making about how to address the challenge of climate change. Given this debate and the urgent need for politically feasible policies that are both effective and economical, the funded project proposes a three-part program to better illuminate the relationship between growth and emissions. First, the researchers will investigate prior changes in countries’ emissions and the political and socioeconomic factors behind them. Using statistical models, the analysis will compare emissions from different sources, and focus in particular on the impacts of public attitudes and the relative sizes of different industries. Second, the project will qualitatively examine in-depth the cases of countries that have most decoupled economic growth from various sources of emissions to identify the main conditions and policy decisions for these achievements. Third, the researchers will investigate what people believe to be key policies’ impacts on growth and employment. Dr. Rhodes will coordinate this part of research to explain how those beliefs shape preferences with respect to climate policies, and how closely they match the actual track records of existing policies.

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