PhD Thesis Final Defense to be held on June 26, 2019, at 12:00

Photo credit: Alexandros Nikas

The examination is open to anyone who wishes to attend (ECE Old Building, Room 0.2.2, Management & Decision Support Systems Laboratory)

Thesis Title: An integrative paradigm in support of climate policy making

Abstract: In pursuit of the drastic transformations necessary for effectively responding to climate change, the Paris Agreement stresses the need to design and implement sustainable, robust, and socially acceptable policy pathways in a globally coordinated and cooperative manner. For decades, the scientific community has been carrying out quantitative modelling exercises in support of climate policy design, primarily by means of climate-economy modelling tools. The aim of this dissertation is to describe in detail the context of a hitherto ineffective scientific contribution to policymaking, highlight the available means to formulate a new paradigm that overcomes existing and emerging challenges, select methodologies and develop a dedicated climate policy support toolbox in line with the proposed paradigm, and ultimately implement the toolbox in five real-world case studies.
In particular, individual modelling exercises alone are argued to widen the gap between formal representation and real-life context in which decisions are taken, and major criticisms to which formalised modelling frameworks are subject are investigated. The proposed paradigm introduces a concrete definition of risk and uncertainty in climate policy, and then underlines the importance of employing diverse modelling ensembles, placing the human factor at the core of modelling processes and enhancing the robustness of model-driven policy prescriptions with decision support systems. To lay the groundwork of this integrative scientific paradigm, an attempt is made to provide a detailed overview and consistent classification of scientists’ traditional tools in support of climate policy, i.e. climate-economy models. After exploring major weaknesses of the formalised modelling frameworks, three decision support methodologies are reviewed and selected to frame the proposed paradigm, based on their capacity to overcome said weaknesses and eventually enhance climate policy making processes. These include fuzzy cognitive maps, multiple-criteria decision aid, and portfolio analysis.
Based on these findings, a dedicated toolbox is developed and discussed. The system mapping method is integrated with the systems of innovation framework and framed in the climate policy domain for the first time, and the MATISE software application is introduced for managing stakeholder knowledge for the evaluation of innovation systems in the face of climate change. The fuzzy cognitive mapping approach is formalised and modified to include the notion of time, and the developed ESQAPE software application introduces the new framework in energy and climate policy. Finally, a new Behavioural TOPSIS-oriented multi-criteria group decision making approach for evaluating climate policy risks is described and a dedicated tool, MACE-DSS, is developed and discussed in detail.
The proposed scientific paradigm is then stress-tested in five real-world applications and settings of the dimensions comprising it: the developed methodological frameworks, climate-economy modelling ensembles, and stakeholder knowledge. The four case studies include the assessment of the impacts of risks associated with a solar-based energy transition in Greece, the identification of optimal technological portfolios for European power generation, the evaluation of the potential for decarbonising the Polish power sector, and the assessment of prospects for a green building sector in China. Finally, all aspects and methodologies comprising the proposed paradigm are integrated in an effort to determine the optimal policy mix for enhancing energy efficiency in Greece in the short term.

Supervisor: Haris Doukas, Associate Professor

PhD student: Alexandros Nikas