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Embodied emissions standards: theoretical perspectives and empirical analysis

   Bartlett School of Environment, Energy & Resources

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  Prof J Watson, Dr Nino Jordan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Carbon intensity product standards are emerging as promising instruments for addressing greenhouse gas emissions embodied in products. Thorough analysis of recently adopted policies will help to accelerate learning in this key area of climate policy and may inform future policy instrument mixes.

Industrial sectors will need to be almost fully decarbonised if climate change targets are to be met. Whilst decarbonisation of many of these sectors is technically possible, the scaling up and widespread deployment of technical solutions is still at a very early stage. Existing policy instruments largely fail to deal with ’hard to abate’ sectors such as steel and cement. More ambitious and tailored policies and regulations will be required. Generic economy-wide carbon pricing policies are very unlikely to provide a sufficiently strong incentive for industrial decarbonisation at the scale and speed that is necessary. Even the successful implementation of border carbon adjustments as a measure against carbon leakage could still result in a price too low for triggering the radical innovation needed. Therefore, more specific policies will be required. Maximum intensity standards for the carbon embodied in products can be a meaningful alternative or complement to carbon pricing, with the advantage that they can be adopted in targeted and flexible ways at different levels of government. Recently, several European countries have introduced embodied emissions standards for buildings and California has adopted embodied emissions procurement criteria for construction materials – a key sector for industrial decarbonisation. These policy innovations present an important opportunity for accelerated evaluation and policy learning.

Studentship Aims

The PhD would examine the implementation of standards so far in Scandinavia and the Netherlands - and learn lessons for future policy, in particular for the UK. Buy Clean Legislation in the USA may also play a role. The empirical analysis should ideally feed into a regulation-theoretical considerations on the potential role of embodied carbon standards in policy instrument mixes.

The holder of the studentship will be required to undertake teaching and related duties for 25% of their time.

Person Specification

Excellent masters level degree in economics, political science, building science or related field.

Strong interest in climate policy. Applicants must meet the UCL ISR PhD Programme Entry Requirements

Stage 1 - Eligibility and How to Apply

Please submit a pre-application by email to [Email Address Removed] with Subject Reference: 4-year PhD studentship Embodied emissions standards

Your pre-application should include the following:

  • A covering letter clearly stating why you wish to apply for the project outlining how your interests and experience relate to it,
  • CV
  • Complete our Fees and EDI questionnaire via the linked Microsoft Forms

Stage 2 - Interview Process

Only shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview.

  • For the interview shortlisted candidates will be asked to send proof of their degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) of degree(s), and evidence of their fees background.
  • The interview panel will consist of the project’s academic supervisors at UCL.
  • The interview will include a short presentation from the candidate on their ideas of how to approach this PhD project.
  • Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme for ISR.

The Successful candidate will be undertaking this project in UCL at the main (Bloomsbury) campus and. For more information, please visit the UCL ISR website.

Deadline for Applications

Sunday 17 July 2022 23:59PM (UK time)


For further details about the admission process, please contact: [Email Address Removed]  

For any further details regarding the project, contact Dr Nino Jordan, [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover UK course fees and tax-free stipend of approx. £18,000* per year for 4 years.
*Exact amount still to be confirmed
There will be a possibility to apply for additional funding to cover research related expenses, activities, travel.
The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to teaching and related duties for approximately 25% of their time for the duration of your studentship. The monthly commitment may vary depending on the time during the academic year.
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