Engineering a response to climate change

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A team of UON Researchers has won the 2017 IFAC Foundation award for work showing how techniques in systems and control engineering can be applied to quantifying the economic damage of greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers, PhD candidate Salman Hafeez, Associate Professor Steven Weller, and Associate Professor Christopher Kellett, are all from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computing at UON.

The IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control) Foundation was created to foster the scientific and social goals of innovative control engineering activities.

This inaugural award recognises a contribution which shows how automatic control science and technology can contribute to significant advances in the broad area of sustainable development.

The award-winning paper “Impact of climate model parametric uncertainty in an MPC implementation of the DICE integrated assessment model” shows how control engineering techniques can be applied to robustly estimate the so-called ‘social cost of carbon dioxide’.

“The social cost of carbon dioxide has been called the most important number you’ve never heard of. Its global use by governments and international finance institutions influences trillions of dollars of investment decisions,” says Associate Professor Weller.

“Interestingly, one of the most common methods of computing the social cost of carbon dioxide falls into a classical set of problems studied by control engineers for well over 50 years. The field of control engineering has long considered problems of decision-making under uncertainty, and we have applied these tools in the study of an important societal problem,” says Associate Professor Kellett.

“As a PhD student, it’s been gratifying to work on a problem that is not only technically challenging but of significant importance if the world is to avoid dangerous human-induced climate change,” says Salman Hafeez.

The award was presented at the Closing Ceremony of the 2017 IFAC World Congress in Toulouse, France on July 14, 2017.

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