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Climatescope 2014

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Climatescope 2014
Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Inter-American Development Bank Group, U.K. Government Department for International Development, U.S. Agency for International Development

The Climatescope is a unique country-by-country assessment, interactive report and index that evaluates the investment climate for climate-related investment worldwide.

It profiles 55 countries worldwide and evaluates their ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy sources while building a greener economy.

The Climatescope is a snapshot of where clean energy policy and finance stand today, and a guide to where clean energy can go tomorrow.

This marks the third year of the Climatescope project. In 2012 and 2013, the Climatescope focused exclusively on Latin America and the Caribbean. The first edition was developed by the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In 2014, the UK Department for International Development and the US Agency for International Development have joined as supporters and advisors. The project has been expanded to include 55 countries, states, and provinces in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Bloomberg New Energy Finance serves as research partner and author of the report.

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Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves. Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to heat stress, and the dairy sector has been estimated to bear over half of the costs of current heat stress to the livestock industry. Greater heat stress may lower U.S. milk production 0.6-1.3 percent by 2030.

Social Network Analysis Shows Direct Evidence for Social Transmission of Tool Use in Wild Chimpanzees

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Social Network Analysis Shows Direct Evidence for Social Transmission of Tool Use in Wild Chimpanzees
Source: PLoS Biology

Social network analysis methods have made it possible to test whether novel behaviors in animals spread through individual or social learning. To date, however, social network analysis of wild populations has been limited to static models that cannot precisely reflect the dynamics of learning, for instance, the impact of multiple observations across time. Here, we present a novel dynamic version of network analysis that is capable of capturing temporal aspects of acquisition—that is, how successive observations by an individual influence its acquisition of the novel behavior. We apply this model to studying the spread of two novel tool-use variants, “moss-sponging” and “leaf-sponge re-use,” in the Sonso chimpanzee community of Budongo Forest, Uganda. Chimpanzees are widely considered the most “cultural” of all animal species, with 39 behaviors suspected as socially acquired, most of them in the domain of tool-use. The cultural hypothesis is supported by experimental data from captive chimpanzees and a range of observational data. However, for wild groups, there is still no direct experimental evidence for social learning, nor has there been any direct observation of social diffusion of behavioral innovations. Here, we tested both a static and a dynamic network model and found strong evidence that diffusion patterns of moss-sponging, but not leaf-sponge re-use, were significantly better explained by social than individual learning. The most conservative estimate of social transmission accounted for 85% of observed events, with an estimated 15-fold increase in learning rate for each time a novice observed an informed individual moss-sponging. We conclude that group-specific behavioral variants in wild chimpanzees can be socially learned, adding to the evidence that this prerequisite for culture originated in a common ancestor of great apes and humans, long before the advent of modern humans.

Determinants of Households’ Investment in Energy Efficiency and Renewables: Evidence from the OECD Survey on Household Environmental Behaviour and Attitudes

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Determinants of Households’ Investment in Energy Efficiency and Renewables: Evidence from the OECD Survey on Household Environmental Behaviour and Attitudes
Source: OECD

Many studies on household energy efficiency investments suggest that a wide range of seemingly profitable investments are not taken up. This paper provides novel evidence on the main factors behind consumer choices using the OECD Survey on Household Environmental Behaviour and Attitudes. The empirical analysis is based on the estimation of binary logit regression models. Empirical results suggest that households’ propensity to invest in clean energy technologies depends mainly on home ownership, income, social context and households’ information. Indeed, home owners and high-income households are more likely to invest than renters and low-income households. On the other hand, social context, such as membership in an environmental non-governmental organisation, and households’ knowledge about their energy spending and use may play a relevant role in technology adoption.

How Was Life? Global Well-being since 1820

October 28, 2014 Comments off

How Was Life? Global Well-being since 1820
Source: OECD

How was life in 1820, and how has it improved since then? What are the long-term trends in global well-being? Views on social progress since the Industrial Revolution are largely based on historical national accounting in the tradition of Kuznets and Maddison. But trends in real GDP per capita may not fully re­flect changes in other dimensions of well-being such as life expectancy, education, personal security or gender inequality. Looking at these indicators usually reveals a more equal world than the picture given by incomes alone, but has this always been the case? The new report How Was Life? aims to fill this gap. It presents the first systematic evidence on long-term trends in global well-being since 1820 for 25 major countries and 8 regions in the world covering more than 80% of the world’s population. It not only shows the data but also discusses the underlying sources and their limitations, pays attention to country averages and inequality, and pinpoints avenues for further research.

The How Was Life? report is the product of collaboration between the OECD, the OECD Development Centre and the CLIO-INFRA project. It represents the culmination of work by a group of economic historians to systematically chart long-term changes in the dimensions of global well-being and inequality, making use of the most recent research carried out within the discipline. The historical evidence reviewed in the report is organised around 10 different dimensions of well-being that mirror those used by the OECD in its well-being report How’s Life? (www.oecd.org/howslife), and draw on the best sources and expertise currently available for historical perspectives in this field. These dimensions are:per capita GDP, real wages, educational attainment, life expectancy, height, personal security, political institutions, environmental quality, income inequality and gender inequality.

Should We Build More Large Dams? The Actual Costs of Hydropower Megaproject Development

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Should We Build More Large Dams? The Actual Costs of Hydropower Megaproject Development
Source: Social Science Research Network

A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. We investigate this question with the “outside view” or “reference class forecasting” based on literature on decision-making under uncertainty in psychology. We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams — excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs. Using the largest and most reliable reference data of its kind and multilevel statistical techniques applied to large dams for the first time, we were successful in fitting parsimonious models to predict cost and schedule overruns. The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return unless suitable risk management measures outlined in this paper can be affordably provided. Policymakers, particularly in developing countries, are advised to prefer agile energy alternatives that can be built over shorter time horizons to energy megaprojects.

Energy — Research Release: Motivations & Emotions of Engaged Consumers Report

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Research Release: Motivations & Emotions of Engaged Consumers Report
Source: Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative

Saving money, protecting the environment and conserving energy for future generations motivate consumers to engage with their utility and Smart Grid-enabled products, according to our new Motivations and Emotions of Engaged Consumers report.

However, the report also indicates that motivations differ significantly between engaged and non-engaged consumers. The report examines the factors that motivate consumers to engage in each case, and aims to help smart grid stakeholders understand how to drive consumer engagement based on the differences in consumers’ motivations for engaging.

Other insights from this quantitative study include:

  • Even though 64 percent of consumers consider themselves energy conscious, there’s a gap between people’s stated energy consciousness and their behavior.
  • Opportunities exist to raise engagement levels by tailoring programs, messaging and content to different people that fit their diverse needs, interest and lifestyles.

Note: Extensive summary is free; full report available for purchase.

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