Socioeconomics, Policy and Financing

Human Dimensions
Human dimensions of energy systems are a focus of IESVic.

Energy system transformations are shaped by social and political dynamics and access to finance. Policies to induce desired changes are subject to social mandate. There are options which address the carbon and climate challenge, but are they broadly acceptable to the economies and communities they impact?  How do we shape today’s  decisions to ensure  long-term benefits? What business models, financing mechanisms and governance structures can facilitate these societal shifts? These are only a few of the research questions influencing sustainable energy systems.

Political economics and energy justice

Economics is ultimately part of society, emergent from the social processes present in economic activity. Jobs transitions, economic productivity and distributional impacts experienced by communities and nations result from this complex interaction of factors. Energy justice is a cross-cutting research area studying distributional impacts as relevant to energy systems issues. This topic considers processes and how energy systems change benefits and impacts various actors. Issues such as “fuel poverty”, vulnerability, cost-burden of energy systems are being explored to determine what factors may impact actions relating to sustainability. Representative surveys of the public and other relevant stakeholders are conducted to collect primary data on socio-political support for different types of climate policies and relevant low carbon technologies, to ensure high endurance of policy solutions.

Energy economy modeling

Macro scale analysis of the economy can provide insights into how various facets of energy-based economy respond to policies, human behaviors and technology progression. Ongoing work combines historical economic datacase studies and survey work with computational models to explore how policies can be best formulated to achieve deep carbon emission reductions targets at provincial and national scales while growing the economy across various energy sectors and influencing new job creation.

Energy transition financing

Massive investments are required to implement the systems required to achieve 2030 and 2050 climate targets. Governments alone can only incentivize early developments; innovative financing mechanisms must be developed to unlock much broader investments from the private sector in future energy systems.

Policy innovation

Policy is one of the main levers for enacting energy system transformation. The social benefits of balancing carbon in the atmosphere are a driving force behind costing and capping emissions, and creating carbon targets. The effectiveness, political acceptability, and governance of climate policy and policy mixes is compared across jurisdictions to identify the most promising pathways forward.

Social license

The development of technologies, their application, and the use of policy to guide outcomes for public good are all subject to some level of acceptance by society. How is this acceptance formed? Who influences it? What factors can change social acceptance. Who defines social norms?