The Economics and Environmental Policy Research Network: Nouri Najjar's Success

Publié le jeudi 28 janvier 2016

Billet de blogue

My connection with The Economics and Environmental Policy Research Network (EEPRN) started back in 2013. At the time, one of my supervisors, Carol McAusland, was working on a literature review for EEPRN and was seeking a co-author.  Together, and with the help of Pat Forestell (an MA student at UBC), we wrote a piece on the effect of environmental regulation on foreign investment. The process was incredibly valuable to me as a first year PhD student. Not only did it help immerse me in the academic and policy literature on environmental regulation – what is still my main area of research today – but it also exposed me to EEPRN.

Later that year, when EEPRN announced their Request for Proposals, Carol suggested I apply. Fortunately for me, the RFP contained a number of topics in which I was already interested. Although I was still busy with course work, the opportunity to work on a project of potential use to Canadian environmental policy makers was too good to turn down. I began by spending some time refining an idea, then checking how it would fit in the existing academic literature, identifying data sources, and tweaking the research question, and finally submitting a proposal.  Carol was an incredible resource during this process, and helped me shape my idea into a workable proposal.

After some time waiting I got the good news – my proposal (entitled Innovation Induced by Environmental Regulation) had been accepted! I spent the next six months working on the paper, and presented some preliminary findings at the 2014 EEPRN Symposium.

The Symposium was a fantastic experience. Although I had presented my work with Carol and Pat the year previously, this was my first time presenting original research. The Symposium brings together academics and policy makers from across the country, which adds both rewards and challenges. Although to be fair, the challenges are relatively small. The greatest challenge is the presentation itself, as you have to maintain academic credibility, but also make your results approachable and useful to the policy community. This can be a tough line to walk.

The rewards, on the other hand, are much greater. You get exposed to a deep and meaningful discussion on environmental policy in Canada, which is invaluable to a researcher searching for ideas.

I also met a number of other Canadian academics working on environmental policy issues at the Symposium.  One of those meetings has turned into an exciting collaboration with Jevan Cherniwchan. We’re working on a project -- also funded by EEPRN -- to assess the costs and benefits of environmental regulation in Canada. To do this, we’re working with a new dataset created by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Statistics Canada that contains plant-level pollution and economic information.  With this dataset we ask how two major changes to Canadian environmental policy – Part 5 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Canada-Wide Standard for Particulate Matter and Ozone – affected the pollution and competitiveness of regulated manufacturing plants.

Both my solo project and the work with Jevan have taken me to Statistics Canada’s head office to work with confidential datasets. This work has helped me learn how to manage some of the administrative complexity that comes with academic research, which seems to be a very important part of the research process.

I’ve also improved my communication skills and developed a much deeper understanding of how to structure academic research to be informative to policy makers.

All of my work with EEPRN has played a crucial role in shaping my academic work. EEPRN has undoubtedly helped bolster my career as a young academic, and I am deeply grateful to the hardworking people who make EEPRN possible.  

Have an idea for a environmental policy research project? Apply today to the EEPRN for funding! The 2016 Call for Proposals closes on February 28th

- Nouri Najjar is a fourth year PhD student in the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC and has received EEPRN funding three times. His research focus is on environmental economics, with an emphasis on environmental policy. His current areas of research are on the economic impacts of environmental regulation and on the relationship between economic competition and pollution. In particular, he is interested in: how firms innovate or adopt new technologies in response to environmental regulation; the costs (in terms of lost competitiveness) and benefits (in terms of pollution reductions) of environmental regulation; and how increased competitiveness can alter a firm’s incentive to reduce its pollution.

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