Sustainability Science Program

Nicholas Ryan

Nicholas Ryan

Nicholas RyanDr. Nicholas Ryan
Department of History
Harvard University
1730 Cambridge St
Cambridge MA 02138
Office:  CGIS South Bldg.
Tel: (1) 617-254-1830
Email: nickryan@fas.harvard.edu
Group affiliation: Post-doctoral Fellow and Prize Fellow

Nicholas Ryan is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Sustainability Science Program and a Prize Fellow in Economics, History and Politics at Harvard. His research interests are in environmental regulation and energy markets in developing countries. He has field experiments underway in India on how regulators the private sector can best abate pollution at low social cost, and a structural study of the determinants of pricing behavior in India's nascent wholesale electricity markets. Nick is contributing to collaborative work with the Initiative on Public-Private Partnerships to Promote Sustainable Development in India led by Professor Rohini Pande. He received his PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2012)  and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors degree in Economics. He worked as a Research Associate in the Capital Markets group at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. His graduate work has been supported by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the Martin Fellowship for Sustainability at MIT, and an Early-Stage Researcher Fellowship from Actors, Markets, and Institutions in Developing Countries. His faculty hosts are Rohini Pande at Harvard and Michael Greenstone at MIT.

Is there an energy-efficiency gap? Measuring returns to efficiency with a field experiment in India
Policy-makers favor energy-efficiency improvements as a near-term means of carbon emissions abatement. Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have long stressed the importance of energy efficiency in any climate change mitigation strategy, and the head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat recently hailed energy efficiency as "the most promising means to reduce greenhouse gases in the short term." This favored position is based on the poorly tested idea that energy-efficiency investments are a low-cost or even no-cost form of abatement, as energy savings make such investments profitable for firms. The proposed study will test this idea rigorously by conducting a randomized-controlled trial of industrial energy audits in India, a fast-growing developing country whose future emissions will be important for global climate change. The study will measure the relation between engineering projections for energy savings and actually achieved savings and also test two leading economic hypotheses for why industry may not adopt technologies that appear privately profitable. Study results will indicate what government policies might cost-effectively promote energy efficiency.

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