UPDATE 3 – July – 2015: Workshop programme and speakers’ bios

I would like to announce a workshop that I am co-organizing, entitled “The changing role of economics and economists in nuclear policy and politics: cross-country and cross-temporal comparisons“, to be held at IPAG Business School, 184 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, on the 6th July 2015, from 9am-6pm.

This workshop is in association with the conference Our Common Future Under Climate Change, Paris, 7-10 July 2015, and the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), to be held in Paris in November and December 2015.

Organisers:   Francis Chateauraynaud (GSPR, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris), Markku Lehtonen (GSPR, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, ESSEC Business School, Cergy, and SPRU, University of Sussex, United Kingdom), Ingmar Schumacher (IPAG Business School, France), Eric Strobl (Ecole Polytechnique Paris, France)

Venue:          IPAG Business School, 184 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris

Date :           6 July 2015, 9am-6pm

Registration: Attendance is free but registration is required by the 29th of June 2015. Please send an email to with the subject line: “Nuclear workshop registration” in order to confirm.

Purpose: This one-day workshop intends to bring together experts from the industry, academia, NGOs and the government in order to present and discuss changes in the substance of economic argumentation on nuclear energy, as well as in the roles of economics and various economic experts in policymaking and political debate. Drawing primarily but not exclusively on examples from France, and the UK, the workshop will focus on three main themes:


  1. Which are the key factors and controversies in debates over the economics of nuclear energy? Which controversies and underlying hypotheses are the most crucial? Are there hidden costs and country-specificities?
  2. The weight of economic experts and arguments in policymaking on nuclear power: whose word counts? Who are the credible and legitimate experts? How has the weight of economics and economic experts changed over time? How does the weight of economics/economists differ across countries?
  3. Factors shaping the credibility, legitimacy and salience of economic experts and arguments in policymaking on nuclear power: why is an expert credible and legitimate while another is not? Which contexts enhance/reduce the weight of economics/economists?

The workshop will finish with a closing panel discussion, chaired by BBC journalist Rob Broomby.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Nicolas Boccard, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Girona, Spain
  • Paul Dorfman, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, The Energy Institute, University College London
  • Steve Kidd, East Cliff Consulting, UK; former Deputy Director General of World Nuclear Association
  • Laurent Joudon, Director, Strategy Division, EDF, France
  • Gordon MacKerron, Professor of Science and Technology policy, SPRU, University of Sussex, UK
  • Yves Marignac, Director of Wise-Paris (World Information Service on Energy)
  • Patrick Momal, former economist at the IRSN (French technical safety organisation in nuclear matters), and World Bank
  • William Nuttall, Professor of Energy, The Open University, UK
  • Thomas Reverdy, Associate Professor of Sociology, The Industrial Engineering & Management School at Grenoble Institute of Technology

wordleI am happy to announce that my article entitled “Threshold Preferences and the Environment”, co-authored with Benteng Zou from the University of Luxembourg, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Mathematical Economics. While the journal will publish a slightly shortened version of the article (without section 2), you can find the full version HERE. What is the paper about?

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  • EC Public Consultation on the Circular Economy from 28.05.2015 to 20.08.2015
    As you may know, the EC withdrew some waste legislation in order to introduce a (hopefully) more ambitious approach, which would be in line with the Circular Economy ideas. Thus, in order to do so, the EC is now undertaking a public consultation on what everyone thinks should be included or the target of a Circular Economy approach by the EC in the future. Have your say HERE.
  • A discussion of the global energy subsidies seen at They are estimated to be at  (post-tax energy subsidies)  $5.3 trillion (6.5 percent of global GDP) in 2015, with coal accounting for the biggest subsidies. Important: these energy subsidies include the externalities that these energy sources produce, e.g. CO2 emissions in the case of goal/gas. Thus, they are not the direct subsidies that governments provide.
  • seminars/conferences this week:
    Tuesday, 2nd June, 5pm,   IPAG, 27 rue de l’Université, Paris; ​Yacoub Bahini will present his article entitled “On the Transition from nonrenewable energy to renewable energy”, co-authored with Cuong le Van.

    Thursday, 4th June, whole day, Ministère de l’Ecologie du Développement Durable et de l’Energie, 246 Bd Sain­‐Germain, Paris; Les enjeux économiques de la conférence de Paris-climat 2015: detailed programme

    Thursday, 4th June, room S/17 in the annex of the Maison des Sciences Economiques, Lunch séminaire : Economie de l’Environnement, Julien Wolfersberger (Chaire Economie du Climat & INRA-LEF) will present a paper entitled `Growth, green capital and public policies’
  • conference annoucement: International Congress for Sustainable Development, Istanbul, Turkey,
    Conference Dates:  Nov 5, 2015 to Nov 8, 2015; Deadline for paper submissions: Jun 20, 2015; Deadline for participant registration: Sunday, October 25, 2015
  • An animated chart of global marine fish stocks from The Economist HERE. Basically, while in 1950 roughly 90% of the fish stocks were in their natural state, in 2009 90% are either fully exploited, over-exploited or collapsed. From the FAO report The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2014: “Global fish production continues to outpace world population growth, and aquaculture remains one of the fastest-growing food producing sectors. In 2012, aquaculture set another all-time production high and now provides almost half of all fish for human food.” Though this seems to be good news, Katheline Schubert and Esther Regnier have a paper together on aquaculture where they show that aquaculture can, nevertheless, have negative consequences on fish stocks. Under some conditions, “Aquaculture worsens the pressure on the wild edible fish stock and leads to a decrease of total wild fish stocks in the long run.”
  • Writing at the Energy Institute at Haas, Meredith Fowlie suggests that moral suasion is no substitute for getting the price right. Her comment is based on a paper by Koichiro Ito and co-authors,  who find the following: “Firms and governments often use moral suasion and economic incentives to influence intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for various economic activities. To investigate the persistence of such interventions, we randomly assigned households to moral suasion and dynamic pricing that stimulate energy conservation during peak demand hours. Using household-level consumption data for 30-minute intervals, we find significant short-run effects of moral suasion, but the effects diminished quickly after repeated interventions. Economic incentives produced larger and persistent effects, which induced habit formation after the final interventions. While each policy produces substantial welfare gains, economic incentives provide particularly large gains when we consider persistence.” It would be interesting to also know whether moral suasion together with some peer pressure would not lead to more persistent results. Also, it is really surprising that price incentives would lead to long-run effects. While the authors forward habit formation as a possible argument, it would be interesting to know whether the price effects still linger on now (i.e. 1-2 year after).
  • Thursday: Jeudi 21 mai 12:30-13:30 Emma Hooper (GREQAM, Aix-Marseille School of Economics) will present Sustainable growth and financial markets in a natural resource rich country, at PSE in Paris (see Environmental Economics Calendar).
  • I added a new calender to the blog (on the right Sidebar). I call it the Environmental Economics calender and will use it to inform interested readers about environmental economics seminars around Paris, but also about environmental economics conferences and workshops. If you have an interesting workshop/conference/seminar that you would like to see advertised/announced please let me know.
  • I also take the opportunity to provide some preliminary information on a workshop that I co-organize on the 6th July 2015 in IPAG, Paris: The changing role of economics and economists in nuclear policy and politics. This workshop will be a side-event to the huge Our Common Future under Climate Change conference that will be held in Paris, 7th-10th of July. We have very interesting speakers so far: Tom Burke (E3G, Imperial College London), Dominique Finon (CNRS), Jan-Horst Keppler (OECD/NEA), Patrick Momal (IRSN), Gordon MacKerron (University of Sussex), Steve Thomas (University of Greenwhich), William Nuttall (Cambridge University), and the BBC journalist Rob Broomby, who is going to chair the panel discussion. More information to follow soon. Registration: Attendance is free but registration is required by the 19th of June 2015. Please follow the link to send an email with the subject line: “Nuclear workshop registration” in order to confirm.
  • The psychology journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology has banned the use of p-values for empirical articles, see HERE. Is this a useful change and will other journals follow? The p-value is basically used in statistical tests to tell you something about how significant your results are. For example, we try to understand the impact of x on y, using y= alpha x+e, where alpha is the coefficient to be determined and e the errors. We would hypothesize that alpha=0 (H0). Then a p-value below 0.001 is interpreted as meaning that the coefficient alpha is highly statistically significantly different from zero. Or, in other words, we cannot reject that 1 out of 1000 times the coefficient alpha is zero.
    Thus, if the p-value we obtain is e.g. lower than 0.001, then we would reject H0. The problem then is that this gives us only an indication that we would expect the coefficient not to be zero, not which other number it would take. If the p-value is above 0.001, then we cannot reject H0 at that significance level. However, we can never accept H0.
    I guess that it is for these reasons that the editors of Basic and Applied Social Psychology decided to ban the use of p-values. In my opinion, a regression result should always be interpreted as the best case that a researcher can make for a hypothesis, or for a model. I think it is quite clear that one can always make a worst case, too. Including or dropping some variables, some other time-series filter, another group of countries, another time period, another treatment of spatial or cross-observation correlation, another regression method is always likely to lead to a different statistical result. I hypothesize that there is no statistical result that is so robust that it holds for any (statistically reasonable) change in the modeling assumptions. For, if there were, then we would not need statistical interference! However, if we do not rely on statistical interference, what is the use of statistics if we cannot study hypotheses and at least know that there exists a best case result for our model?
    Thus, in my opinion, most journals are not going to follow this ban. Also, if one understands the limitations of p-values and how they should be used, then there is nothing really wrong with them and they add a little bit of information to the results.
    Furthermore, and maybe most importantly, I think it should continue to be best practice to not just throw an econometric regression at an audience, but to start by making a convincing case based on a model that captures the most important relationships between the variables in question, and then provide a best case scenario for this model. This best case scenario should be complemented with robustness exercises that show under which conditions this best case continues to hold, but also when it may not hold anymore. This gives some understanding of the robustness and where the model may go wrong, or where the data does not fit.
    Furthermore, if statistical analysis does not support a model, then this should not directly invalidate the model. As I was told once by a friend: “If the data does not fit the model, then too bad for the data!”  Clearly, the question then is where are the problems with the model, or why does the data not support the model. I guess the point that I am trying to make is that we should simply be much more careful in our statistical analysis in general, and not simply run the one or the other regression but clearly think of what we want to know, what model we have in mind, how robust our results are, when they are not robust any longer, what the limitations are and where they come from.
  • Jane Goodall – I first learnt about her from The Far Side Gallery years ago and then got to know about her real achievements – suggests HERE that SeaWorld should be closed down. Similar points could be made about closing down most zoos in the world. However, as is noted HERE, most animals that lived for years and years in captivity are unable to adjust to `real’ life. Also, for children (and grown-ups, too) visiting zoos is often a wonderful experience that brings them closer to nature and appreciating it. Of course, the question should be whether this has to be at the costs of those animals that are held captive? Difficult…
  • What bees and voting have in common according to Marginal Revolution. Alex Tabarrok argues that quadratic voting could help to convey the intensity of one’s choices. In my opinion this comes very close to simply saying people have a financial budget that they can allocate to voting. This thus more reasily helps to equalize marginal benefits and costs, which simply gives more information than the traditional `one (wo)man – one vote’ principle.

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