Sustainability & climate change

Victoria University has consolidated its research activity.

From 2018 research of the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies (VISES) is located within the Institute Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities.


Our work on climate change mitigation and adaptation has focused on four specific factors:

  • the role of China and other emerging economies as the main sources of further increases in emissions
  • the need for sharp changes in development strategies if these increases in emissions are to be contained
  • the pivotal role of new technologies in reducing emissions in both developed and developing countries
  • the formulation of effective adaptation strategies, in both Australia and Asian countries, to respond to global warming.

For both Australia and China, our work has had a major emphasis on policy development and decision making, which is the agreed focus for the development of the sustainability theme in the University.

We are developing a capacity in water economics in conjunction with the Institute for Sustainability & Innovation (ISI) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) under the Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) program. Substantial streams of work are underway, in conjunction with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and with funding from the Australian Government, on developing better frameworks for adaption policies and strategies under uncertainty.

Sustainable energy use in China

The specific contribution of this long-term research area is intended to be a focus on policy implementation issues, doing so in a way which draws extensively on international experience yet is also fully cognisant of the specific Asian context of implementation.

This ongoing research project is currently based upon a collaborative partnership between the VISES and China’s National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) Energy Research Institute (ERI).

ERI is China’s leading energy researcher, playing a key role in shaping and informing the government’s energy and climate change policies. For the past 15 years, ERI has been engaged in modelling the Chinese economy and its relationship to projected greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It has a particular focus on the potential of a low carbon economy in decoupling the relationship between economic development and increasing levels of carbon emissions. It is envisaged that, through genuine cooperation, a significant contribution is being made to the knowledge base for implementing effective energy policies in China.

Funded by the Australian Department of Climate Change, Canberra.

Low-carbon cities in China project

This project develops a knowledge base and tools to guide effective implementation in China’s cities of low carbon policies. The aim is to conserve energy, reduce emissions and improve living standards, whilst strengthening economic, environmental and social sustainability. It investigates the context of the low-carbon city movement in China, and provides low-carbon energy roadmaps for Beijing and Tianjin.

The brief required the development of an index systems for assessing and monitoring progress towards low-carbon city status. It covers a broader range of issues than energy use and carbon emissions. Lessons were drawn from Melbourne, which is widely recognised as providing high levels of ‘liveability’ but which is certainly not in other respects a low-carbon city.

More sustainable energy use in China: economic structure and the application of new technologies project

China’s top priorities in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2006-2010) include sharply reducing energy consumption per unit of output and making energy production and use less damaging to the environment, while maintaining rapid development. This is a very complex task, given China’s rapid growth, the extent of international engagement in China and its decentralised development and governance model.

The implementation challenges it faces are great, especially in the context of renewed inflation and the global financial crisis. The process is inevitably constrained by limited knowledge of how specific policies might best be implemented in China, of how successful they are likely to be and of what this means for the choice of preferred policies.

The overall objective of this project is to assist the relevant Chinese authorities to develop a stronger knowledge base on these implementation issues. It will draw on a systematic analysis of international experience, including that of Australia, with particular policies and technologies, and on a detailed review of the specific realities of China affecting the outcome of a particular policy or the uptake of a specific technology. It will address implementation issues in two areas:

  • changing economic structure from energy intensive sectors to those that are more knowledge intensive and rely less on energy and other resource inputs
  • adoption of advanced technologies in particular sectors (air-conditioners and motor vehicles) and the increased use of one cleaner form of energy (natural gas).

Understanding environmental, climatic & societal change

Climate and society are both changing rapidly, placing a broad range of social and environmental values at risk. We are undertaking a range of projects that cover climate change (adaptation and mitigation), natural hazards, urban green infrastructure and integrated urban water management. These include:

  • mapping and understanding bushfire and natural hazard vulnerability and risks at the institutional scale
  • assessing the economic value of green infrastructure for local government
  • exploring climate policy links for the new generation of climate change scenarios
  • an economic evaluation of the Brimbank Industrial Precinct
  • assessing the economic value of alternative water supplies in an urban setting.

Project personnel

  • Professor Roger Jones – climate change risks, integrated assessment, mitigation and adaptation strategies
  • Professor Peter Sheehan – greenhouse gas emissions, economics, industry and the knowledge economy
  • Celeste Young – knowledge integration and implementation using communication and innovation methodologies, trans disciplinary research, development and management

Project papers and reports

Mapping and Understanding Bushfire and Natural Hazard Vulnerability and Risk at the Institutional Scale (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC) (2014-2017)

Assessing the Economic Value of Green Infrastructure (City of Melbourne) (2015)

This is a collaborative project between the City of Banyule Council, the City of Kingston Council and Moonee Valley City Council, led by the City of Melbourne. It is funded by the Victorian Adaptation and Sustainability Partnership (VASP), an established partnership between the Victorian Government and Victoria's 79 local councils. It develops an economic framework for green infrastructure to help local government value the benefits of green infrastructure (GI), especially for adapting to climate change.

VU CRN Project: Water Management – Economics Externality Costing (2012-2014)

Valuing Adaptation Under Rapid Change – The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) (2011-2013)

This was an NCCARF collaborative research project with RMIT. This project examined a number of key aspects of the how the climate changes and explored the challenges and opportunities that this poses when valuing adaptation to climate change.

Building Bridges: Adaptation Industry Context Paper (Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR) Think Tank) (2013)

This project was undertaken in collaboration with the VCCCAR and supported a Think Tank designed to ascertain the research needs of industry in relation to adaptation.

Contact us

For further information about Sustainability & climate change projects, contact Professor Roger Jones.

Phone: +61 3 9919 1992
Email: roger.jones@vu.edu.au