Monday, February 1, 2021

Francqui Lectures Plan

I have now made a plan for my series of Francqui Lectures at Hasselt University. Unfortunately, given Australian government pronouncements, we have decided to make this an online only series. I had hoped to travel to Belgium mid-year, but that is now not going to be possible.


The inaugural lecture will take place in March and following that there will another 4 lectures over the next couple of months. They will focus on key areas of my research in recent years with introductions based on my ANU course material in environmental and energy economics. I have now written abstracts and made plans for each one:

Inaugural Lecture: Economic Growth and the Environment
What is the relationship between economic growth and environmental quality? The environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) hypothesis proposes that growth initially damages the environment but at higher income levels eventually improves the quality of the environment. The EKC has been a very popular idea over the last three decades despite being criticized almost from the start. The lecture will first review the history of the EKC and alternative approaches. Then applying an approach that synthesizes the EKC and alternative convergence approaches, it will show that convergence and non-growth time-related effects are important for explaining both pollution emissions and concentrations. Future research should focus on developing and testing alternative theoretical models and investigating the non-growth drivers of pollution reduction.

Lecture 2: Energy and Economic Growth and Development
All economic activity requires energy, but what is the relationship between energy use and economic growth and development? Richer countries tend to use more energy per person than poorer countries, but energy used per dollar of GDP tends to be lower in richer countries and decline over time globally. Countries are also becoming more similar – converging – in their energy use. This lecture will present evidence on these patterns and investigate the drivers of change.

Lecture 3: The Rebound Effect
Energy efficiency improvements that reduce the cost of providing energy services result in more use of those services reducing the energy saved. This is the direct rebound effect. There are also follow-on effects across the economy – such as the energy required to produce the other goods and services that consumers buy instead of energy – that can potentially make the economy-wide rebound much larger. Could the rebound be large enough for energy efficiency improvements to “backfire” by actually increasing rather than reducing energy use? The lecture will show how we can use a structural vector autoregression model to estimate the effect of energy efficiency shocks on energy use. The model is applied to the US, several European countries, and Iran demonstrating that economy-wide rebound is large, and backfire may be possible.

Lecture 4: Energy and the Industrial Revolution
Ecological and mainstream economists disagree on how important energy is for economic growth, and economic historians are divided on the importance of coal in fueling the increase in the rate of economic growth known as the Industrial Revolution. The lecture will argue that energy is much more important for growth when it is scarce than when it is abundant. Increasing energy services has much less effect on growth in developed economies than in pre-industrial or developing economies. The lecture will present models of the role of energy, and coal specifically, in economic growth and apply them to understanding the Industrial Revolution in Britain and Sweden, two countries with extensive historical data.

Lecture 5: Econometric Modelling of Global Climate Change
Economic growth has increased anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and their concentration in the atmosphere leading to climate change. This means that greenhouse gases follow similar stochastic processes to macroeconomic variables, allowing us to apply the toolkit of time series econometrics to analyzing global climate change. However, though economic activity has immediate impacts on the climate, there is also a “tail” of much slower effects due the role of the ocean in storing heat and the slow processes of the carbon cycle and changing land-cover. The lecture will show how time series econometrics can be applied to understanding global climate change and estimating the impact of economic activity on the climate.


  1. Hello David. Will your lectures be published somewhere?

  2. They will be recorded. I plan to post the recordings on here. But there isn't going to be a written lecture. Just a slide deck and me talking. There are blogposts on here on all of the published papers I will be using as the basis of the talks. Maybe I can link those alongside the recordings in this blog?