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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs- Geoffroy Dolphin, Judge Business School

Geoffroy Dolphin
Judge Business School
External Partner: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Project title: Clean Air Strategy

Summary

The internship took place within the Air Quality and Industrial Emissions team of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and was focused on the economic analysis of policies that the UK government is considering as part of its (soon to be announced) Clean Air Strategy. This Strategy is being developed with the view of achieving 2030 Emission Reduction Commitments contained in the EC National Emissions Ceilings Directive. Approximately half of the internship was spent on producing an impact assessment of the said Directive using in-house economic analysis tools. Another 25% of the time spent within the team was dedicated to the economic analysis of ammonia emissions reduction measures from agriculture. It involved work and interaction with external contractors. The rest of the time was spent on producing ad hoc economic analysis/information.

By working as an intern at Defra I was hoping to gain a deeper understanding of the application of microeconomic principles to policy questions. Moreover, I was particularly interested in finding appropriate ways to translate these principles into sound econometric analysis. In that respect, I was looking forward to broadening my knowledge and experience with the specific (econometric) properties of microeconomic datasets. Secondly, I wanted to become familiar with Defra’s modelling tools and approaches. My past modelling experiences pertained to the study of long-term macroeconomic developments (i.e. growth) with a specific focus on the impact of capital taxation in overlapping generations (OLG) models. This experience made me familiar with modelling strategies and software (the models were programed in MATLAB and R). However, I had less experience when it comes to environmental policy modelling and, given the focus of my current research, I was looking to extend my modelling skills in that direction. Finally, interning at Defra offered a unique opportunity to get first-hand experience of the policy process. As I am particularly interested in the policy implications of academic research, such an experience would be extremely valuable to me.

I became much more familiar with Defra’s existing economic modelling tools and approaches. In this respect, the internship has been greatly beneficial to me. I have been fully immersed and engaged, as part of the Air Quality and Industrial Emissions team, in the policy development process surrounding the Clean Air Strategy. I have experienced first-hand how the responsible Minister engages with the Department and how it affects its work.

I have greatly benefitted from this internship in the following two ways. First, I gained new knowledge pertaining to local air pollutants. In particular, I acquired an understanding of the scientific dimension of the problem of local air pollution (e.g. what are the specific pollutants presenting a risk for human health and the natural environment, how emissions of air pollutants result in concentrations in specific geographical locations,…) as well as of existing national and international regulation. Second, as a member of the Air Quality and Industrial Emissions team I have obtained a much clearer understanding of the processes, constraints and outputs of a government department/regulatory agency. More importantly, I believe I now have an improved understanding of the needs of such an agency and how academic input can (or not) address them.

Engagement with government organization and policy making bodies in general has always been part of my career objectives and this experience comes as a confirmation of it. Moreover, for the reasons highlighted in the previous section, I believe that the experience gained over the last 6 months will prove invaluable in future relationships with such organizations.

The UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been responsible for the country’s Air Quality since 2001 and has established itself as a strong authority in this matter. Given my deep interest in environmental policy relevant questions, I would therefore be thrilled to contribute to shaping the UK’s Clean Air Strategy.