Working papers

Success, Failure, and Information: How Households Respond to Energy Conservation Goals [link to paper][link to appendix] forthcoming in JAERE
This paper investigates how households respond to repeated energy conservation goals. I track households’ program participation and electricity use decisions across successive annual energy conservation challenges offered by a large electrical utility company. I find that households’ decisions whether to re-enroll in the program and attempt a subsequent goal are highly sensitive to their success or failure in achieving their energy conservation goal, but not to the financial incentive to continue participating or to their level of past effort. This suggests that households are either responding to the emotional and normative aspects of success and failure, or are substantially inat- tentive to information that is provided directly to them. I also find that households’ electricity use reduces each year they participate, yet rebounds when they stop participating.


 Climate reform and transitional industry assistance: Windfall profits for polluters? with Gordon Leslie and Jonathan Kuok [link to paper]
Introducing climate change policies such as carbon pricing can bring substantial costs for fossil-fuel- fired electricity generators, with incumbents often granted a transitional allocation of free emission permits. The free allocation of emission permits and the passthrough of carbon prices to higher electricity prices has created substantial concern that these policies allow emissions-intensive firms to reap windfall profits. We use the implementation and later repeal of Australia’s price on carbon to show that coal-fired plants which received free permits had a substantial increase in their profits. This result supports calls for any transitional climate policy assistance to be tied to passthrough rates in order to avoid creating wealth transfers from taxpayers to emission-intensive generator owners.

​Complements or Substitutes? The Importance of Mode Choice In International Trade with Scott Orr​
This paper considers how substitutable transport modes are within international trade. We first show that a variety of different trade models incorporating multiple transportation modes produce the same general equation for mode-specific bilateral trade, and this imposes potentially unrealistic restrictions on trade substitution across modes and countries. In particular, we show previous trade models have implicitly treated transport modes as both substitutes and complements. By exploiting idiosyncratic variation in freight rates, we then estimate the degree of substitution between transport modes. Contrary to previous work, we find relatively little evidence of short-run substitution between air and ocean transport modes.

(Mis-)Aligning net zero emission reduction targets for investment portfolios with ​Tanya Fiedler
Financial institutions and investors tasked with reallocating the US$ trillions in capital needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and net-zero commitments rely on methods to measure and reduce their financed emissions. These approaches appeal in part due to their apparent close affinity with country-level GHG targets. In this paper, we analyse the relations between reductions in portfolio-level financed emissions, their metrics, and changes in physical emissions. We find that, unlike country-level GHG targets, reductions in financed emissions have little direct relation to changes in physical emissions, and that over a 95% reduction in financed emissions can be easily achieved using industry-standard methods, despite their physical emissions increasing at the same time. This creates a substantial risk of misaligning portfolios—and their investment decisions—to Paris objectives and to net-zero commitments. We consider the implications and suggest alternative means by which investors can credibly align their portfolios.

Attributing global freight transport emissions with Jacob Fry, Keiichiro Kanemoto, Manfred Lenzen, & Keisuke Nansai
The transportation of freight by land, sea and air underpins the complex network of global trade in physical commodities. Greenhouse gas emissions from freight transportation are a significant component of global emissions and are predicted to grow in coming decades. However, the inclusion of freight transport in emissions accounts and environmental impact studies is often incomplete. Both data availability and the difficulty in allocating freight emissions to specific commodity trades contributes to this. In this study, international freight emissions are estimated from the bottom-up by imputing global transport routes. Emissions are estimated from these freight movements and integrated with a global multi-regional input-output model. This allows for carbon footprints complete with respect to freight emissions to be calculated. Our approach reveals how freight emissions are embodied along global commodity supply chains and provides a better understanding of the importance of freight transport emissions relative to production emissions.

Works in progress

Testing the peak-end rule: electricity use decisions and bill shock with Edwin Chan

How well do ESG scores reflect environmental impacts? with Matthew Watt

Are​ all emissions created equal? with Carol McAusland


J.A.J. Burgess, A.E. Fraser, F. Fani Sani, D. Vick, B.D. Hauer, J.P. Davis, M.R. Freeman “Quantitative Magneto-Mechanical Detection and Control of the Barkhausen Effect” Science 339, 2013

J.P. Davis, D. Vick, P. Li, S.K.N. Portillo, A.E. Fraser, J.A.J. Burgess, D.C. Fortin, W.K. Hiebert and M.R. Freeman. “Nanomechanical Torsional Resonator Torque Magnetometry” Journal of Applied Physics 109, 07D309, 2011

D. Vick, V. Sauer, A.E. Fraser, M.R. Freeman, & W.K. Hiebert. “Bulk Focused Ion Beam Fabrication With 3-Dimensional Shape Control of Nanoelectromechanical Systems” Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering 20, 105005, 2010

N. Liu, F. Giesen, M. Belov, J. Losby, J. Moroz, A.E. Fraser, G. McKinnon, T.J. Clement, V. Sauer, W.K. Hiebert & M.R. Freeman. “Time-Domain Control of Ultrahigh-Frequency Nanomechanical Systems” Nature Nanotechnology 3, 715 - 719, 2008