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Michel den Elzen appointed to endowed chair at Faculty of Science

30 July 2021
Michel den Elzen has been appointed to the endowed chair of “International Climate Policy and Mitigation of Climate Change” in the Faculty of Science’s Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), with effect from 1 August 2021.

This chair is funded by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), where Prof. den Elzen holds the post of Senior Researcher in the field of international climate policy. Michel den Elzen will focus on the analysis of international climate policy and policy scenarios. This work will be based on calculations involving various integrated assessment models that have been developed at PBL. This 0.2 FTE appointment is for a period of five years.

Additional policy to achieve climate targets
Current climate policies of every nation in the world are insufficient to limit the global temperature increase to “well below” two degrees, let alone the preferred value of about one and a half degrees that was agreed in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Prof. den Elzen explains that “Enhanced policies from national governments and non-state actors are needed to meet the Paris climate targets. In 2021, the nations of the world must make commitments to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. These will need to be more ambitious than their previous pledges.”

With regard to non-state actors, such as cities and businesses, Michel den Elzen wants a clearer insight into the action they are taking to further reduce emissions, and into how these measures interact with national climate policy. This will require further improvements to the methodology used in existing policy models.

Extensive model-based analyses
In addition to analysing the implementation of the Climate Agreement, Prof. den Elzen is exploring the effects of current and enhanced climate policies. He will also analyse countries’ emission reduction commitments, and climate mitigation scenarios that are consistent with the Paris climate targets. Michel den Elzen points out that “Integrated assessment models will be used to explore the impact on the production and use of energy, on greenhouse gas emissions, on land use and the associated climate effects, as well as on the costs involved and the macroeconomic effects”.

This research is in line with current climate research at the IVM and with international climate policy research at the PBL in support of international climate negotiations and of the Dutch government’s international climate policy and that of the European Commission.

Michel den Elzen obtained his PhD from Maastricht University in 1993. He has been lead and contributing author of several Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on the scope for limiting climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. He has also been lead author for all of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Emissions Gap reports, which have been published annually since 2010. These reports analyse the climate pledges and current policies of every nation in the world. They examine the gap between these efforts and what is actually needed to meet the Paris climate targets. Prof. den Elzen is currently leading the Global Climate research project at PBL and DG CLIMA. This EU-funded project in the field of international climate policy is being carried out on behalf of the European Commission.