Date & Time: 
Thursday 22 October 2015 to Friday 23 October 2015
Thursday 22 October 2015 at 8:30am-Friday 23 October 2015 at 5:00pm

A joint Griffith University - Global Change Institute event. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris will attempt to achieve an international, legally binding and universal agreement on climate and carbon emissions reduction. Irrespective of the outcomes, it is clear that developed and developing countries alike face fundamental challenges in achieving substantial carbon emission reductions. These require not only a major changes in the technologies used to produce electricity, substantial emission reduction also requires a fundamental paradigm shift in consumer lifestyle and their attitudes about using energy in their everyday lives. Without the latter, any future efficiency gains and potential carbon reductions in production technologies may be rendered ineffective by the rebound dilemma – supply efficiency gains stimulating even further increases in energy demand.

This workshop will bring together leading academics from a range of fields, such as engineering, psychology and economics, to better understand the challenges faced by contemporary policymakers in creating a new energy economy that must inevitably emerge in the face of global climate change.

Workshop details

Venue: Ship Inn Main Function Room (Bldg S07), Griffith University, Southbank Campus
Dates: Thursday 22 and Friday 23 October 2015
Time: 8.30 am - 5.00 pm


1: Sustainable transitions in energy production

Australia is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels. Not only does this provide a major challenge in the context of reducing carbon emissions but it also means that Australia lacks the diversity in its power generation necessary to be resilient to unanticipated future developments in global energy markets. Low carbon emission technologies, such as wind and solar power generation, have been falling in cost as their adoption has increased. This has caused problems for coal generators and created a state of uncertainty in which capital investment strategies have been placed on hold. Inevitably, this has led to political pressure on policies designed to reduce carbon emissions which, in turn, has put investment strategies in the renewable sector on hold. This is not a healthy state for the power generation sector to be in. Given that it seems inevitable that renewables will become the lowest cost choice in some, but not all, settings, particularly as reductions in the cost of electricity storage occur, what we are witnessing is ‘creative destruction’ in action. So we can expect to see a significant reduction in the share of coal in power generation over the coming decades. How should policymakers manage this transition towards a changing mix of power generation? Globally, there have been many schemes introduced to subsidize investments in renewable energy and these have made sense when scale was low and unit costs high. However, parallel policies to assist with the exit of old and relatively inefficient coal generation plants have been less in evidence, particularly in Australia. This imbalance in policy application has tended to occur because of a narrow focus on carbon mitigation, using standard economic analysis, rather than on developing a system-wide strategy to facilitate the transition of the whole, highly-interconnected power system, using some of the analytical approaches developed by evolutionary economists.

2: Climate change, consumer lifestyles and energy demand

Governments around the world are spending millions of dollars every year on ‘soft’ measures such as public information campaigns to promote the voluntary adoption of sustainable consumption practices. However many of these campaigns turn out to be relatively ineffective because of the so called ‘value-action’ gap. This refers to the great paradox that emerges when one compares public perceptions of climate change and its associated impact on the environment with the literature on consumption sustainability. In the former, survey after survey conducted around the world suggests that most individuals do accept that climate change is real and most express at least some level of concern about it e.g. (Nisbet and Myers, 2007). On the other hand, while many do profess to be concerned about climate change and the state of the environment, there appears to be a yawning gap between these concerns and their propensity to act on these concerns by adopting sustainable consumption practices (Gifford et al., 2011). What are the social institutions that foster this gap and what type of new policies could deliver more effective outcome in terms reducing negative abatements and encouraging consumers to act on their environmental concern?

3: Policymaking and well-being in the era of sustainable growth

In light of the growing need for achieving a sustainable transition, fundamental questions are being raised about what normative criteria policymakers use to measure human welfare. While more and more scholars agree that economic growth does not always accurately deliver improve the human lot, alternative such as “happiness”, “capabilities” or the “sustainability” also have their pitfalls. Without a clear normative paradigm on which to base policy interventions, any action promoting the sustainable transition is left open to criticism. Moreover, the knowledge we have today about climate change and how society influences this process is not static – rather it is evolving and may well be rendered obsolete by tomorrow’s discoveries. This shifting knowledge base creates uncertainty and poses particularly tricky issues for policymakers about the timing of policy interventions.


Guest Speakers

Associate Professor Graham Bradley

Graham Badley is an Associate Professor at the School of Applied Psychology at Grffith University. He is an applied social psychologist with research interests in developmental, organisational, health, consumer, tourism, and environmental issues and problems. He completed his Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and teaching qualification at the University of Melbourne, and his PhD at Griffith University in 2004. He has been an academic for 35 years and a member of the Australian Psychological Society for 30 years. He has taught psychology at Griffith-Gold Coast since 1993.

Professor Robert Costanza

Professor Robert Costanza is a Professor and Chair in Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy. Prior to this, he was Distinguished University Professor of Sustainability in the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University, Gund Professor of Ecological Economics and founding director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, Professor at the University of Maryland and at Louisiana State University and a visiting scientist at the Beijer Institute for Ecological Economics in Stockholm, Sweden, and at the University of Illinois Natural History Survey. Dr. Costanza is also currently a Senior Fellow at the National Council on Science and the Environment, Washington, DC, a Senior Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm, Sweden, an Affiliate Fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont and at the Tao Master of Ecological Economics at the deTao Masters Academy in Shanghai, China.

Dr Peter Earl

Dr Earl is an Associate Professor at the School of Economics, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at The University of Queensland. He specialises in business economics, consumer research and economic method, with an interest in the impact of psychological factors and problems of information and knowledge on decision-making.
His approach blends elements from Austrian Economics, Behavioral Economics, Evolutionary Economics, Institutional Economics and Post Keynesian Economics. He has served as co-editor of the Journal of Economic Psychology and is a founding member of the editorial boards of Review of Political Economy and Marketing Theory. He is the author or editor of sixteen books and numerous articles and book chapters.

Professor John Foster

Professor John Foster is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science in Australia, Life member of Clare Hall College, Cambridge, Past President of the International J.A. Schumpeter Society. Current research interests include: the diffusion of innovations with special reference to the emergence of low carbon emission power generation technologies; modelling evolutionary economic growth with special reference to the role of energy; modelling the impact of climate change on the economy with a specific focus on the power generation sector; modelling the macro-economy as a complex adaptive system; applying self-organisation theory to statistical and economic modelling in the presence of structural change; the re-design of national power grids to accommodate renewable energy generation. He is Director of the Energy Economics and Management Group at UQ and Focal Leader, Renewable Energy at the Global Change Institute. Previously, he was: Head of the School of Economics at UQ (1999-2008); Deputy Director of the ARC Centre for Complex Systems (2006-2008); Member of the Social, Behavioural and Economic Panel, ARC College of Experts (2005-2007); Member of the Expert Panel appointed by the Federal Minister for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kim Carr, to review the National Innovation System (2008). 

Professor John M. Gowdy

John is Rittenhouse Professor of Humanities and Social Science, Department of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He is the recipient of the Herman Daly Award for contributions to ecological economics. Gowdy is the author of over 170 published articles and 10 books. His books include “Paradise for Sale: A Parable of Nature, with Carl McDaniel. Gowdy has served as president of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics and President of the International Society for Ecological Economics. He has been a Fulbright scholar at the Economic University of Vienna, Leverhulme Professor at Leeds University and a visiting scholar at the Autonomous University Barcelona, the University of Zurich, the Free University of Amsterdam, the University of Queensland and Tokushima University Japan.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is the inaugural Director of the Global Change Institute (GCI) and Professor of Marine Science, at The University of Queensland. He is deeply motivated by a desire to communicate science effectively, undertake game-changing research and to find high-impact solutions to address several of the most pressing and serious challenges facing humanity worldwide, such as climate change, food security, clean energy and population growth. As Director of the GCI he has a key role in engaging with the UQ community and external stakeholders to create opportunities and build strong external links and networks for the institute. He heads a large research laboratory (over 30 researchers & students) that focuses on how global warming and ocean acidification are affecting and will affect coral reefs. Professor Hoegh-Guldberg has held academic positions at UCLA, Stanford University, The University of Sydney and The University of Queensland and is a member of the Australian Climate Group; the Royal Society (London) Marine Advisory Network; and the Board of Editing Reviewers at Science Magazine. In 1999 he was awarded the Eureka Prize for his scientific research. He is the Queensland Smart State Premier's Fellow (2008-2013).

Professor Carmen Lawrence

Carmen is a Professor of Psychology and former premier of Western Australia. After training as a research psychologist at the University of Western Australia and lecturing in a number of Australian universities, Dr Lawrence entered politics in 1986, serving at both State and Federal levels for 21 years. She was at various times W.A Minister for Education and Aboriginal affairs and was the first woman Premier and Treasurer of a State government. She shifted to Federal politics in 1994 when she was elected as the Member for Fremantle and was appointed Minister for Health and Human Services and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women. She held various portfolios in Opposition, including Indigenous Affairs, Environment, Industry and Innovation and was elected national President of the Labor Party in 2004. She retired from politics in 2007. She is now at the University of Western Australia where she is Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Change in the School of Psychology. She is currently chair of the Australian Heritage Council.

Associate Professor Tim Nelson

Tim is the Head of Economics, Policy and Sustainability at AGL Energy. In this role, Tim is responsible for: AGL’s sustainability strategy; greenhouse accounting and reporting; AGL’s energy and greenhouse research; AGL’s corporate citizenship program, Energy for Life; and formulating energy policy and regulation. Tim regularly briefs governments (both Ministers and Departments), community stakeholders (environment and consumer NGOs) and investors about AGL and Australian energy and climate policy. He is also regularly used as a media spokesperson for AGL and appears before Senate and other government inquiries on behalf of AGL.  Tim is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University and has had several papers published in Australian and international peer-reviewed journals. He has presented at conferences in Australia and throughout Asia and Europe.

Professor Jean Palutikof

Professor Jean Palutikof is Director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University. She took up the role in October 2008, having previously managed the production of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report for Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability), while based at the UK Met Office. Prior to joining the Met Office, she was a Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences, and Director of the Climatic Research Unit, at the University of East Anglia, UK, where she worked from 1979 to 2004, and a Lecturer at the Department of Geography, University of Nairobi, Kenya, from 1974 to 1979.

Associate Professor Jason Potts

Jason Potts is an Associate Professor in the School of Economics, Marketing and Finance at RMIT. He has written three books and over 70 articles on the theory of economic evolution. His work focuses on how entrepreneurship and innovation drive economic growth and development.

Professor Joseph Reser

Professor Reser has been a prominent Australian and international researcher in the fields of environmental psychology and applied social psychology over the past three decades. He conducted Australia’s most in-depth national survey examining public risk perceptions and understandings about climate change in 2010 and 2011. One of the most intriguing  findings of the survey was the significance and influence of perceived direct experiences with environmental changes or events which respondents thought might well be due to climate change. Professor Reser has served on many advisory and expert committees relating to these areas of research expertise, with the most recent including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Professor David Stern

Professor David Stern is an energy and environmental economist working on the role of energy in the economy and the drivers and mitigation of climate change. He is a professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. He is currently director of the International and Development Economics Program in Crawford. He is associated with the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, and the Energy Change Institute. He is also an associate editor of Ecological Economics and on the editorial advisory board of Nature Energy.

Professor Ulrich Witt

Evolutionary economics, long term economic growth, consumption & consumer behaviour, institutional & organizational change. Witt has published over 60 articles, 12 books and 3 special journal issues in these areas. He currently serves on the editorial board of 11 journals. Witt is an Honorary Member of the Japan Association for Evolutionary Economics; was awarded a honorary Doctorate Honoris Causa, University of Witten-Herdecke, Germany (2003), awarded the William F. Kapp Prize, European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy 1992.



  • Griffith University
  • University of Queensland - Global Change Institute
  • Griffith Centre for Sustainable Enterprise
  • Griffith Asia Institute
  • Griffith University Accounting, Finance and Economics Department
  • Griffith University Office of Research
  • Griffith Climate Change Response Program

Non-financial supporters

  • Griffith University Department of International Business and Asian Studies
  • Griffith University School of Applied Psychology

General enquiries

Dr Andreas Chai
Senior Lecturer
Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics
Griffith Business School, Griffith University
Ph: +61 7 555 28607

Ship Inn Main Function Room (Bldg S07), Griffith University, Southbank Campus

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