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2014-11-27 | News

Behaviour, risk and climate response: doctoral thesis wrap-up

Kerri Brick, researcher with the Environmental Research Policy Unit (EPRU) at the University of Cape Town, has wrapped up her doctoral thesis, which uses behavioural economics to understand how people might respond to a more variable climate. 

Climate change calls for society to find ways to reduce atmospheric emissions (so-called ‘mitigation’) as well as to adapt to life in an altered climate. Brick’s thesis is based on four papers which examine different strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation, in the South African context.

‘On the mitigation side, I use ‘public good games’ to look at how self-interest comes into play in climate negotiations, both locally and international,’ explains Brick.

‘Then, using a series of risk experiments, I look at how peoples’ attitudes towards risk influences adaptation to climate change. More specifically, I look at the role of risk attitudes on adaptation choices, firstly, in the context of uncertainty around the timing and severity of climate variability and, secondly, in the context of uncertainty around the outcome of the proposed adaptation strategy.’

Brick positions her research in the arena of urban agriculture, insurance and dealing with flooding in high risk areas of the city’s more marginal communities. The research, done in collaboration with Prof Martine Visser, is based on laboratory and field experiments, and is designed to contribute to understanding the economics of climate change, explains the researcher.

Brick expects to receive corrections on the dissertation soon, and will wrap up the thesis ahead of a possible post-doctoral position with the EPRU in 2015.


by Leonie Joubert