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Environmental tax policies for net zero strategy and social welfare

   Economics and Finance

  Prof Nigar Hashimzade, Prof Peter Jelfs  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

There is an increasing drive among the governments in many countries to decarbonise their economies. Environmental tax policies are the most prominent among the tools that have been commonly used to address various environmental issues, including the harmful effect of carbon energy sources.

The theory of environmental taxation goes back by a hundred years, to the 1920 work of the British economist A.C. Pigou. A vast literature has been developed since then, with theoretical analysis and empirical evaluation of the economic and environmental effect of various environmental tax policies, including different forms of taxation of emission-generating activities and subsidisation of the development and use of the alternative energy technologies. While in the UK there are only four recognised environmental taxes, that is, taxes with explicit environmental objectives: Climate Change Levy, Carbon Price Support, Landfill Tax, and Aggregative Tax, there is also a range of other taxes, tax reliefs, and subsidies that have an effect on the environment. It is important to understand how these measures work and interact on the road to the net zero 2050 target set by the UK government.

Another significant issue is the welfare and distributional effect of environmental tax policies. A well-intended policy may disproportionally harm vulnerable households. For example, tax measures leading to higher gas prices may exacerbate fuel poverty of households unable to afford switching away from gas-powered heating. Conversely, a policy may unfairly benefit those who are better off while being paid for by all taxpayers. Thus, for example, government subsidies to the use of solar panels in residential properties may benefit primarily the affluent households who can afford them. Analysis and evaluation of the societal consequences of environmental tax policies is equally important.

The successful applicants will be expected to use advanced econometric techniques with data obtained from available sources. A background in economic theory and coding skills for model simulations will be a bonus.

Research journey

Doctoral research programmes (PhDs) take a proud place in the world-class research environment and community at Brunel. PhD students are recognised and valued by their supervisors as an essential part of their departments and a key component of the university's overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.

A PhD programme is expected to take 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, with intakes starting in January, April or October.

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1) or an international equivalent. A Masters degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry.

Research support

Excellent research support and training

The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme. The researcher development programme (RDP) offers workshops and seminars in a range of areas including progression, research management, research dissemination, and careers and personal development. You will also be offered a number of online, self-study courses on BBL, including Research Integrity, Research Skills Toolkit, Research Methods in Literature Review and Principles of Research Methods.

Library services

Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs. As well as the physical resources available in the Library, we also provide access to a wealth of electronic resources. These include databases, journals and e-books. Access to these resources has been bought by the Library through subscription and is limited to current staff and students. 

Dedicated research support staff provide guidance and training on open access, research data management, copyright and other research integrity issues.

Careers support

You will receive tailored careers support during your PhD and for up to three years after you complete your research at Brunel. We encourage you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research, even (or perhaps especially) if you don't yet have a career path in mind. Our careers provision includes online information and advice, one-to-one consultations and a range of events and workshops. The Professional Development Centre runs a varied programme of careers events throughout the academic year. These include industry insight sessions, recruitment fairs, employer pop-ups and skills workshops.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded topic
Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: View Website. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.


Bovenberg, A. L., Goulder, L. H. (2002). Environmental taxation and regulation. In: Alan J. Auerbach and Martin Feldstein (Eds.), Handbook of public economics. Vol. 3, pp. 1471-1545. Elsevier.
De Vito, L., Hayes, E. (2021) Journey to Net Zero: a rapid review of the challenges for the UK Industrial Sector. Air Quality Management Resource Centre, University of the West of England, Bristol.
Hodgkin, R., Rutter, J. (2021). Net zero and the tax system. Institute for Government.
House of Commons, Committee of Public Accounts (2021). Environmental tax measures. Fifty-Fifth Report of Session 2019–21.
Milne, J. A., Andersen, M.S. (2014). Handbook of Research on Environmental Taxation. Edward Elgar.

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