The Climate Change and Environment Seminar Series was hosted jointly by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) and the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Robust decisions under uncertainty: examples of info-gap analysis in mitigation policy and flood risk management

Speaker: Jim Hall, Newcastle University

Abstract of Jim Hall’s seminar

Robustness has been widely identified as a desirable attribute of decisions that have to be taken under conditions of severe uncertainty.

We think of a decision being robust to uncertainty if it yields acceptable outcomes under a wide range of possible futures. Yet robustness is seldom cost free. It usually entails sacrificing some performance relative to an ‘optimal’ solution.

Uptake of robust solutions therefore needs to be justified by methodology that can be used to compare options on the basis of robustness and the cost at which it is achieved.

One such approach is info-gap theory, which was originally developed by Yakov Ben-Haim, and has now seen application in a very wide range of fields, including ecology, economics and engineering.

This talk provided a brief introduction to info-gap theory before presenting examples of its application to mitigation and adaptation decisions.

The mitigation example used a version of the DICE model that included the (uncertain) probability of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation collapse and its consequences.

The adaptation examples dealt with flood defences on rivers and in the Thames Estuary.

Biography of Jim W Hall

Professor Jim Hall is Director of the Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research in Newcastle University and Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

He is a civil engineer who began his research career working on risk analysis in flood and coastal engineering.

Professor Hall is Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and also a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

He has published over 50 articles in international refereed journals on the subjects of flood and coastal risk analysis, infrastructure systems, climate change and decision making under uncertainty.

He is the engineer on the Adaptation Sub-Committee to the independent Committee on Climate Change.

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