Post-doctoral Researcher: Climate Policy Implications of Bioenergy Trade

Position: Post-doctoral Researcher: Climate Policy Implications of Bioenergy Trade (SEI/NORD-STAR Research Fellow – re-posting)
Duration: 2 years, with possibility of renewal or development of permanent position
Start date: January 2013; later start date negotiable
Duty station: Stockholm, Sweden
Application deadline: Friday, 30 November, 2012

As part of its engagement in the NORD-STAR programme, SEI seeks a post-doctoral researcher to focus on the climate policy implications of the continuing expansion in international bioenergy trade, working in consultation with SEI staff, NORD-STAR partners and external collaborators, as appropriate.

Nordic Strategic Adaptation Research (NORD-STAR) programme

NORD-STAR is a Centre of Excellence involving collaboration across 10 research and policy organisations located in the 5 Nordic countries, with funding from the Norden Top-Level Research Initiative. Within the scope of climate impacts and climate policy, NORD-STAR focuses especially on three issues: land-use change, energy transitions, and insurance and finance. NORD-STAR researchers analyse and communicate needs and opportunities for strategic adaptation and the linkages between mitigation and adaptation using two methodological approaches: modelling/visualisation and policy analysis. Combining the two issues and the two methodological approaches, NORD-STAR has six main projects:

  1. Interactive land-use modelling, visualisation and decision support
  2. Land-use trade-offs affecting adaptive capacity
  3. Energy transition modelling
  4. Energy transition management
  5. ICT-based decision support at multiple levels
  6. Appraising adaptation policy

This hire aims to support the implementation of project (4) especially and strengthen SEI expertise in these areas.

Research questions, rationale and approach

This research considers the climate policy implications of the continuing expansion in international bioenergy trade. Our work uses the Nordic countries as a reference point, but naturally connects strongly to the international market and international policy context given the global nature of the impacts and driving forces. More specifically in relation to climate policy, does or can this expansion support both adaptation and mitigation strategies? If so, what is their relative importance and what are the key linkages, synergies and conflicts between climate mitigation and adaptation strategies in relation to expanded bioenergy trade?

The transition to sustainable and renewable energy will place greater demands on land use compared to the fossil and nuclear fuels being replaced: the impacts are especially significant in the case of bioenergy. The land use impacts from bioenergy were previously local and regional. However, international trade in biomass and bioenergy has increased rapidly in recent years, with significant land use impacts and sectoral changes in agriculture and forestry. The changes in land use in turn impact adaptive capacity at the same time that they affect the nature and the pace of the sustainable energy transition at local and regional scales. The unique position of biomass among renewable sources as an internationally tradable set of commodities therefore endows the expansion in North-North, North-South and South-South bioenergy trade with special significance in relation to the broader energy sustainability transition. The transition is also inextricable from the dynamic changes in land use that are occurring globally due to increases in demand for food, feed, fuel and fibre, and the associated climate stressors that are thereby created or transformed.

The research approach will be interdisciplinary in nature and will be developed by the post-doctoral researcher in consultation with relevant SEI staff, any appropriate NORD-STAR partners and any external collaborators that may be involved. The approach is expected to be three-fold: assessment of co-benefits and risk-sharing in bioenergy trade; an empirical investigation of energy/agriculture/forestry sector correlations in expected climate impacts; and regional case studies on institutional responses to the expansion in bioenergy trade. Linkages, synergies and conflicts between mitigation and adaptation strategies will be explored at this conceptual level and then tested in empirical terms and in the case studies. The empirical work might require some synthesis of climate impacts on agriculture and forestry, and focusing on the trade trajectories in relation to biomass productivity and industry learning curves.

Key Qualifications

Essential:

  • Recent Ph.D. in interdisciplinary energy/climate analysis, economics, applied sciences, or a related field
  • Experience with quantitative and qualitative analysis of trade flows and/or bioenergy systems
  • Excellent oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • Ability to work in an international environment and willingness to travel
  • Ability to develop and apply interdisciplinary methods
  • Fluency in written and spoken English

Desirable:*

  • Knowledge of another major/relevant language (e.g. Spanish, Portuguese, French) and/or a Nordic language
  • Knowledge of EU energy and climate policies and institutions
  • Experience in climate policy assessments for alternative energy systems and processes
  • Experience in assessing land use impacts and/or sustainability of bioenergy products or systems
  • Experience with evaluating climate impacts on biomass productivity
  • Experience in analysing climate change vulnerability and assessing adaptation strategies

* Note that it is not expected that the candidate would possess all of these qualifications or have experience in all the mentioned areas.

How to apply:

Applications should be submitted in PDF format and should consist of a CV and a cover letter that includes the names and contact details of three referees. These should all be written in English and arrive at SEI no later than 30 November 2012. They should be sent by e-mail to:vacancies@sei-international.org. Specific (brief) questions concerning the content of the position can be directed, up until 15 November, tofrancis.johnson@sei-international.org. Specific (brief) questions concerning staff issues can be directed, also up until 15 November 2012, to the Union representative: patricia.vilchis.tella@sei-international.org. Please use as the subject line in the email: ‘NORD-STAR post-doc position – Bioenergy Trade – [Applicant’s Last Name] – [Applicant’s First Name]’.

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