Innovation Fund

The ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), which was established in 2008 to advance action on climate change through innovative, rigorous research, is currently supporting a second round of successful applicants to the Innovation Fund.

The aim of the fund is to stimulate the flow of innovative ideas on climate policy from both the practitioner and research communities. Applicants to the fund are asked to outline innovative ideas that could help to advance climate policy. Ideas can relate to climate change mitigation or adaptation, to any stage of the policy process from inception to impact, to any level from the global to the local and to any setting in the UK or internationally, including business and the voluntary sector. The key requirement is that ideas – when developed – have the potential to make a real contribution to the advancement of climate policy.

Ideas are developed in partnership with CCCEP researchers, either at the University of Leeds or at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Outputs from the work could include a CCCEP Policy Brief or Paper, a CCCEP academic working paper, a CCCEP event, etc. Please note that no further funding rounds will be available under the Innovation Fund.

The projects currently being funded under Round 2 of the Innovation are:


The Role of Domestic Institutions and FDI in Environmental Innovation: The Case of China

“China has an ambivalent relationship with its natural environment. Air, water and soil are severely polluted but China is also the world’s largest investor in renewable energy and clean tech. For China to improve its environmental track record, it needs to strengthen its output and effectiveness in environmental innovations. Environmental innovations are innovations that aim to reduce the environmental impact of goods and services. Stimulus for such efforts can come from foreign direct investments (FDI) by multinational enterprises (MNEs). MNEs typically possess more advanced technologies and management practices than local companies. By investing in a foreign market MNEs export such technologies and practices overseas as well. Local firms have been found to benefit from this transfer of technology through a number of mechanisms. To date, however, we do not know if FDI into China has had any positive, stimulating effects on environmental innovations and to what extent FDI effects is contingent on domestic institutions. The aim of this project is to explore quantitatively and qualitatively if and how FDI into China has triggered Chinese firms to become more active in environmental innovations.”

Dr Hinrich Voss (University of Leeds); Professor Annie Wei (University of Leeds); Professor Jouni Paavola (University of Leeds)


Advancing pro-poor climate resilience programmes: integrating solar energy within Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme

“In collaboration with Concern Universal, an international NGO, researchers from the University of Leeds completed the evaluation of an innovative policy trial that integrates solar energy access provision into Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme. The trial represents a novel approach for advancing pro-poor climate resilience programmes, with donors and NGOs working across sub-Saharan Africa eager to understand lessons learned. Owing to the scarcity of social protection schemes that integrate climate adaptation and mitigation, previous attempts to evaluate where and how such efforts can help reduce the climate and development vulnerabilities of the ultra-poor have been rare. To complete the assessment, CCCEP Associate Ben Wood travelled to Malawi to lead five weeks of fieldwork with in-country research assistants. Outputs included a report encompassing findings and recommendations that was developed for Concern Universal. A policy brief has also been developed and will be shared with government bodies and NGOs who are implementing energy access interventions and SCTPs across sub-Saharan Africa, including the Malawian government, which is currently renewing the National Energy Policy.”

Ben Wood (University of Leeds); Prof. Andy Dougill (University of Leeds); Prof. Lindsay Stringer (University of Leeds)

Identifying opportunities for coherence between iNDCs and the SDGs: the case of West African ECOWAS member states

“This research provides a better understanding of the interactions, synergies and trade-offs that exist between the Sustainable Development Gaols (SDGs) and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (iNDCs) of the member States of the Economic Community of West African States. In particular, there is a lack of understanding on how the iNDCs submitted to the UNFCCC can advance progress towards achieving the SDGs. The study seeks answers to the following research questions:

  1. What overarching approaches to adaptation and mitigation are present in the iNDCs of the member states of ECOWAS and how do these vary across countries and sectors?
  2. What kinds of interactions (positive and negative) are present in the iNDCs submitted by member states of ECOWAS and SDGs?
  3. What are the co-benefits from the iNDCs in contributing towards meeting the SDGs?”

Dr Philip Antwi-Agyei (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology); Prof Andrew Dougill (University of Leeds); Prof Lindsay Stringer (University of Leeds)

Can ‘Flood Re’ increase the resilience of small businesses? Investigating flood insurance and other strategies to move forward

According to the latest UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, flooding is the main future climate risk.  Around 1.1 million of non-residential properties are at risk from all types of flooding. Flooding is rarely good business, and for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) it is sometimes a matter of survival. They can destroy the assets of a company, but they may also bring disruptions in the supply of raw materials or of public services, modify the demand of products, diminish worker productivity, just to mention some hidden impacts. Financial protection against flood risk has been recognised a way to protect assets and livelihoods. However, concerns exist about the affordability of cover in high risk areas. Those concerns led to the creation of Flood Re, a scheme were premiums are subsidised. Flood Re has been considered by some as a retrograde action, as it covers all homes, including high-income households, but excludes micro-businesses, small businesses, charities and co-operatives in high-risk flood areas. The argument was that flood insurance is widely available for SMEs, and brokers can help SMEs secure flood cover. The Federation of Small Businesses casts doubts about if the insurance market will work for SMEs in the face of increasing impacts. The Government and the industry have recognised that finding affordable insurance can be a challenge for a few SMEs, at an aggregate level, they are confident that this is not a widespread issue. Nevertheless, it has been noted that “should significant evidence emerge of a systemic market failure in these sectors, the Government and the ABI have agreed to discuss the way forward” (ABI website).

The objective of this project is to improve our understanding of flood insurance for SMEs, and to establish if SMEs have flood insurance problems, and if so, how they could be overcome and which other risk management strategies could be available for SMEs. By doing so, we will contribute to the development of a flood protection policy framework that increase the resilience of this backbone of the economy.

Dr. Paola Sakai (University of Leeds); Dr. Swenja Surminski (London School of Economics); Professor Jouni Paavola (University of Leeds)

Developing a Global Indicator of Biodiversity Impacts from Climate Change (BICC)

“To date, no global scale indicator of climate change impacts on biodiversity exists. As a result, global policy-makers have no cohesive information on where, which and how much of the world’s species are (and aren’t) responding to climate change. This poses a serious to challenge to motivating for action, as well as to priority-setting, and was recognised by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as an important gap in its indicator suite. Wendy Foden is piloting a novel approach to compile a global indicator of Biodiversity Impacts on Climate Change (BICC). Working with a combination of large datasets from disparate sources, she plans to link shifts in biological communities with recorded changes in temperature to reveal how biodiversity is being impacted by the 1.2°C of warming already experienced globally. As well as meeting the CBD’s indicator need, this study will help to explore how these trends and patterns of impact are likely to play out in the future.”

Dr Wendy Foden (University of Stellenbosch); Prof Jon Lovett (University of Leeds); Dr Susannah Sallu (University of Leeds)