Postdoc Economist Fellow, Carbon Storage and Policy

With world attention on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. By focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches, we tackle urgent threats with practical solutions. We are one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of approximately 700 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. We operate in 22 geographies with unique projects running across four programs. You will be part of a vibrant workplace where innovation and results are a way of life.

 

EDF envisions a world in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected to the environmental challenges we face and are engaged in creating durable, equitable solutions. We seek talented candidates who share our Core Values of Respect, Results, Innovation, Optimism, and Integrity, and support our Commitment to Diversity.  

Solving the climate crisis requires a suite of strategies, including efforts to protect and enhance carbon held within natural systems including tropical forests. The potential magnitude of mitigation from this pool has led to significant interest from tropical countries, developed countries and private sector actors and a variety of efforts and initiatives to fund forest protection. However, these efforts are not yet delivering against this potential, and existing approaches need to be adapted as the intensity of global climate efforts increases. Conceptual misunderstandings and lack of expert alignment persist around the merits of large jurisdictional (national or state-level) approaches, experiences to date, and their ability to address environmental and social integrity issues. Technical questions around approaches to uncertainty, baselines, leakage, non-permanence, nesting approaches, and other issues also sometimes arise in debates over differing standards and the merits of jurisdictional versus project-level approaches. More generally, there is a lack of clear articulation of the conceptual underpinnings of certain key environmental integrity issues (e.g. issues of non-permanence), particularly in relation to forests and other terrestrial carbon sources. 

 

While EDF and others are engaged at the forefront of market and policy developments and have developed much analysis and underlying thinking on these issues, effort is needed to pull arguments together and refine and socialize them with leading experts. This will involve analytical work, convening conversations among experts and key stakeholders and use of empirical modeling. The resulting consensus on guidance based in strong economics and science will facilitate development of sound, mutually reinforcing efforts at the international, national and private sector levels. These multi-level efforts will enable tropical forests to fully contribute to efforts to reach global net zero emissions by 2050, in ways that support more sustainable models of rural development and help all communities - particularly indigenous and smallholder communities in the tropics - thrive.

 

This Post-doctoral Fellow position joins a cohort of 4 other post-docs working on EDF’s Nature-based Climate Solutions (NbCS) project. The overall intent of this project is to address two of the largest barriers to effective carbon credit markets: lack of clear scientific understanding and consensus on the realizable carbon storage or removal potential of the vast array of natural carbon sinks, and lack of market confidence in the integrity of carbon credits available for purchase. The NbCS team conducts research and convenes stakeholders to find agreement on the science, policy frameworks, measurement and accounting standards that underpin high-integrity credits. The project focuses on natural climate solutions where we can accelerate carbon storage most quickly because of the scale of the potential storage and the current interest in those credits. These include the management, use and protection of tropical and temperate forests, agricultural soils and oceans.

We are searching for a recent Ph.D. recipient to conduct research and analysis on different approaches to the creation of high-integrity tropical forest carbon credits, with a particular focus on jurisdictional and nested approaches relative to independent smaller projects. This will include analysis of the environmental integrity (e.g. uncertainty, additionality, permanence), costs, administrative feasibility, likely supply and co-benefits under different approaches, synthesizing and refining existing work. It will also explore approaches to transition from the current, simple-to-implement but hard-to-scale approaches, to more comprehensive large scale efforts so we can maximize current storage, recognizing that losses of tropical forest are largely irreversible, while building effective long-term systems with integrity. The focus will be on international compliance and voluntary markets, and both countries and companies as potential credit buyers. Our geographic focus will initially be on Brazil and may expand to one other country.      

 

Overall Function

The Postdoc Fellow, Carbon Storage Economics and Policy will conduct research and analysis on different approaches to creation of high-integrity tropical forest carbon credits, with a particular focus on jurisdictional and nested approaches relative to independent smaller projects. The fellow will identify and convene experts to help synthesize existing knowledge, identify points of difference, where possible resolve them, and where not possible to understand the implications of these differences in perspective or beliefs. The fellow will help to produce a series of briefs and papers that jointly provide comprehensive guidance to effective design and operation of crediting systems. The fellow will gain technical skills and practical knowledge working closely with EDF economists, scientists and other policy, legal and finance experts at the interface of environmental economics research and international climate policy development.

 

Key Responsibilities

 

  • Identify key participants and coordinate workshops of economists, social scientists and key technical stakeholders to explore knowledge and solutions to knowledge gaps on key challenges to effective crediting;
  • Lead writing of briefs to inform workshops, and of papers synthesizing consensus reached on how to approach each of a series of design issues in policy and program advice and for advocacy (similar to the EDF co-led ETS Handbook);
  • Write papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and reports/fact sheets/blog posts for general audiences on the potential, challenges and solutions to providing effective and equitable financial support and incentives for tropical forest protection and enhancement;
  • Maintain and build ties to the academic/research communities, through outreach, presentations at workshops and conferences, informal contacts, etc.;
  • Pursue projects and collaborations in their own areas of interest;
  • Participate in EDF’s professional development program for post-doctoral fellows.

 

Qualifications
 

  • recent Ph.D. in economics, agricultural economics or related policy discipline with interest in working at the interface of economics and policy
  • Strong skills in applying economic principles to policy design and evaluation
  • Strong analytical, statistical and synthetic skills
  • Demonstrated record of economic research
  • A track record of high-quality published research, leadership of a collaborative research project, and presentations at conferences.
  • Superior oral and written communication and networking skills
  • Familiarity with tropical deforestation and climate policy
  • Interest in and demonstrated capacity for translating economic theory into real-world applications and practice
  • Ability to work with and communicate effectively with researchers and policy stakeholders
  • Ability to work as a member of a highly collaborative team in a fast-paced environment
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English is required.  Other language skills a plus

 

Location

This Fellowship will preferably be based in EDF’s New York office, but is open to other locations and remote postings.

 

Term

This position is a two-year post-doctoral fellowship.

 

Application Materials

Please apply to this position using a CV, a letter of interest, and any publications relevant to the above project. 

Environmental Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant's qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.

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