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Title: Weathering the storm : managing physical climate risks in the electricity sectors in the United Kingdom and France
Author: Bonjean Stanton, Muriel Claude
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 0899
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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Recent flooding of substations or droughts reducing hydropower brought the brittleness of electricity infrastructures to the attention of engineers, scientists and policy-makers. As future climate change is projected to affect extreme weather events, ensuring critical infrastructure reliability is vital for any society's survival. Whilst governments lead climate adaptation planning, engaging private organisations in adaptation is paramount when they provide critical services. This research explores how electricity companies manage the climate risks they are exposed to and what drives them to do so in two countries. The UK and France were chosen because of the marked differences in the structure and governance of their electricity sectors. The research takes a qualitative multi-method approach, consisting in a systematic literature review and content analyses of policy and corporate documents as well as of interviews with electricity company employees, policy-makers and third-party practitioners. This thesis makes several contributions. First, in the long term, climate change will impact negatively on thermal electricity generation and positively on some renewable generation in parts of Europe. Second, climate risks in both countries are mostly mainstreamed through policies aiming to ensure future generation capacity. Third, the electricity sectors in both countries are well-prepared for short- and medium-term climate risks but less so for the longer term. Corporate climate adaptation is largely driven by financial and regulatory policy instruments, but existing instruments are not conducive to building climate-resilient electricity sectors in the long term. Fourth, the electricity sector governance is changing in both countries. Whilst the UK is traditionally market-based, government interventions are more frequent. In contrast, France moves from a state-centred towards a more market-based governance. In this context, a window of opportunities opens for governments to explore more innovative policy processes that consider the longer term and for companies to adopt decision-making approaches that accommodate the deep-uncertainties intrinsic to future climate change.
Supervisor: Paavola, Jouni ; Dessai, Suraje Sponsor: European Commission
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available