econ-nomical-logoWelcome to Eco-nomical.  This site has been created to encourage changes that will both support a more sustainable way of life and save money.  It is managed by the Green Impact team in the Department of Economics at the University of  York.

We welcome your feedback.  What content would you like to see? Please do get in contact, get involved, and help us to help others and let the site grow organically! We are also looking for contributors for regular blog articles on themes of sustainability and the economics of sustainability.  If you are interested in contributing, please contact us via email eco-nomical@york.ac.uk

How an insurance policy can save our coral reefs

The demise of the world’s coral reefs have been well documented in recent years, with rising temperatures, ocean acidification, and intensifying storms caused by climate resulting in widespread coral bleaching and mortality.  With coral reefs providing a home to an estimated 25% of ocean life despite occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor, the threat to their existence represents a major risk to the biodiversity of our oceans.

While this is undoubtedly a major issue, what is not immediately obvious is how this may affect people, and therefore who may be compelled to protect them.

Many countries rely massively on their tourism industry, which in many parts of the world is driven largely by coral reefs, and the biodiversity they offer a home to. This economic value they provide in the tourism industry is estimated to be an astonishing $36 billion worldwide. This represents a huge incentive for countries and business to invest in protective measures.

In addition to this, coral reefs reduce an average of 97% of wave energy protecting beaches, properties and communities from erosion and destruction that would otherwise be caused during storms. This is particularly important given the impact that climate change is having intensifying storms. If the reefs become degraded, infrastructure losses from storms could triple, with over 100 million people being impacted. Again, this highlights how socially and economically costly reef degradation would be for many communities.

In Quintana Roo, Mexico the incentive to protect reefs is particularly obvious. In 2007, they prevented 43% additional damage during Hurricane Dean, and annual benefits are now estimated at US$62.8M for building damage prevention and hotel infrastructure, as well as reef tourism attracting over one million visitors annually. A partnership between the Nature Conservancy, National Parks Commission, state government and hotel owners have therefore purchased the first coral reef parametric insurance policy to ensure the ecosystems are repaired after extreme storms. This works by payments made after storms or damage for immediate reef restoration, the value of which is proportional to the knots endured (and thus level of damage). Combined with the Post Storm Protocol development to guide efforts fixing broken fragments, removing debris to prevent further damage, and the installment of nurseries for future transplanting, this aims to mitigate future coral degradation and sustain reef ecosystem services.

This is the first example of catastrophic risk insurance in practice so there is limited research or evidence to determine its success in ensuring restoration and protection, thus a potential obstacle will be convincing businesses. Regardless, it is crucial that integrated coastal zone management recognises the importance and economic benefits of sustaining


Welcome to the new and returning students in Department of Economics and Related Studies!  We are excited to start the autumn term.

There are many opportunities to follow a more sustainable life at the University and in York, and this site contains a number of ideas.  Find out how to get around with the minimum of cost and carbon footprint, how to cook imaginatively and cheaply, how to keep those ever-expensive energy costs down and the variety of ways you can get involved with the University and the local community to contribute to sustainable living.

One more thing – do tell us what you would like to see on this website!  Please comment on what you find useful, and tell us about what’s missing.  We are looking for bloggers on a variety of subjects and volunteers to manage the website.  Contact us at eco-nomical@york.ac.uk  – and have a fantastic term!

International Development Society Conference on Climate Change

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Comprehensive assessment by scientists shows that it is extremely likely that human activity has been the dominant cause of global change since the mid-20th Century. While the carbon footprint of the world’s most poverty-stricken billion people is only 3 per cent of the world’s total footprint, they are the most vulnerable to its consequences.

This is the reason why this year’s conference organised by the International Development Society revolves around climate change, its effects on developing countries, and the necessary domestic and international policy steps to undertake in order to improve the situation.

Climate change affects developing countries in several ways.

Firstly, it has disastrous effects on the state of world agriculture. This will be especially the case in developing countries that have limited financial resources and technologies available to adapt to such environmental impacts.

To explore this topic further, we are hosting Dr Claire Quinn, from the University of Leeds, who will speak to us about the effects of climate change on agriculture in Africa. Dr Quinn is an environmental social scientist with over 20 years of experience working on interdisciplinary projects in Africa, Europe and Asia.

After Dr Quinn, Professor Fiona Nunan, from the University of Birmingham, will talk to us about policy solutions in developing countries. She will talk to us about her book titled Making Climate Compatible Development Happen. Her first book Understanding Poverty and the Environment: Analytical Frameworks and Approaches makes an innovative contribution to the literature on environment and development by bringing together a diverse range of analytical approaches and frameworks that can be used to study human-nature interactions.

After, Patrick Curran, Policy Analyst and Research Advisor to Professor Stern, will deliver a talk titled Unlocking the sustainable and inclusive growth story of the 21st Century: The central role of developing countries. Curran researches at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE. Before that, he worked at Camco Clean Energy (South Africa) supporting the development of climate change and energy policy in sub-Saharan Africa.

We also have a speaker from the International Institute for Environment and Development in Edinburgh. Binyam Gebreyes will speak about climate policy in Ethiopia and the International climate change negotiation in the context of Least Developed Countries. Before joining the IIED, he worked for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of Ethiopia serving as an environmental law expert: main responsibilities involved coordinating matters related to multilateral environmental agreements including domestic ratifications and supporting national implementation of those treaties.

Finally, Adrian Villasenor-Lopez, Research Fellow from the Centre for Health Economics here at York, will talk to us about environmental policy and human wellbeing. He undertook a postdoc at the “Centre for the Socio-Economic Impact Evaluation of Environmental Policies (CESIEP)” at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile where he worked evaluating the success of programmes in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Chile in terms of their impact on human wellbeing.

We are also hosting Jo Musker-Sherwood, from the NGO Hope for the Future. Her passion for climate justice stems from time volunteering in Peru and a year she spent working with asylum seekers and refugees. Together with campaigners and MPs from across the UK, she has been working as part of the campaign to find ways of communicating the urgency of the climate crisis to UK politicians.

During the conference, we will offer coffee and tea, as well as lunch. During the lunch break, we will host a quiz in which you can participate and test your knowledge about such an important topic! The winner will receive a prize.

Participation to the conference, which will be held in the Ron Cooke Hub Lakehouse on Saturday 23rd of February, is free, but we do ask you to book your place through Facebook or YUSU. We are proud and excited to present well-established and interest academics who are experts in their fields. See you there!

Students can book their tickets on our facebook event:
Or directly on YUSU:

The International Development Society Committee

One Planet Week, 11-17 February 2019

It’s that time again! One Planet Week takes place 11 – 17 February 2019, and the theme this year is Sustainable Materials.


As part of the week’s celebrations, the Green Impact team here in the Department of Economics will be holding a herb plant sale on Wednesday 13th February at 11 am, in the reception area of our building.  The seedlings are planted in temporary pots made from newspaper, with labels made from milk bottles.   Do support this event if you can. All money raised from the sale will support York Toilet Twinning.

There are many fantastic events going on across campus, the following short list contains just a few highlights.  For more information, check out the UoY Sustainability webpages, or their Facebook and Twitter feeds: #OPW19

  • Discover more: about innovations in sustainable materials, Tuesday 12th February, 12 noon – 4:00 pm, Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building; or about sustainable architecture on Tuesday 12th February, 6:00 – 7:00 pm, Physics P/L/00.  On Thursday 14th February, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, you can find out how we can reduce our ocean plastic pollution (as shown in Blue Planet II), at the Ron Cooke Hub, RCH/037.
  • Catch a film: Watch an extraordinary documentary by Leonardo Dicaprio on climate change, Before the Flood, on Tuesday 12th February, 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm in Environment, ENV/105x.  Or Learn more about the working conditions and environmental impacts of the clothes you buy at The True Cost screening on Thursday 14th February, 5:00 pm – 18:45 pm in the Spring Lane Building, SLB/118.
  • Shop sustainably: visit the Food Fair and Swap Shop in Constantine Forum on Tuesday 12th February, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm . While you are there, why not visit Scoop, a student led, not-for-profit cooperative selling healthy and ethical goods.  Or drop by the Ethical Clothes swap on Monday 11 February, 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm in the Norman Rea Gallery: donate clothes to get clothes back, or purchase clothes at £5 or less an item.
  • Take a sustainability quiz: how sustainable are your current habits?  Take the One Planet Week Quiz to find out.


Eco-nomical wins Excellence Award 2018

We are delighted to announce that the Economics Green Impact team has won an Excellence award for all the work done, and Eco-nomical, in 2018. Well done team!

For more details about the Green Impact initiative:



York Festival of Ideas 2018

York Festival of Ideas 2018 is taking place until Sunday 17th June 2018.  There are a number of free events on sustainability topics, including imagining the future, building sustainable communities here in York, food waste and cycling.

Imagining a World Without Food Waste – Tuesday 12th June, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm


A panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of preventing food waste, followed by an interactive audience Q&A and accompanying exhibition.  For further information and tickets, visit the Festival of Ideas website.

Impossible Futures? Environmental Utopias for the 21st Century – Wednesday 13th June, 7:00 – 8:00 pm

What might a green utopia look like?  Using examples of science fiction and popular non-fiction, find out by booking tickets here.

Cycling City: Why Aren’t We There Yet? Wednesday 13th June, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

In York, just 15% of people regularly use a bicycle to get around. How can we grow participation and make York a cycling city?  Visit the talk web page for more information.

Imagining the Impossible: Life Without Cars – Saturday 16th June, 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Cyclist and author Josie Dew has cycled over 505,000 miles across six continents and 49 countries. Join Josie at Cycle Heaven as she discusses life without cars.

Building Sustainable, Successful Communities – Sunday 17th June, 2:30 – 4:00 pm

A panel of architects and housing policy experts discuss how to create successful communities.  For further information and to book, visit the Festival of Ideas website.

Show us your mug competition!

Show Us Your Mug!The Department of Economics Green Impact Team are running a competition, open to all students and staff at the University. To enter, take a reusable mug to any cafe on campus, send us a photo of your hot drink, and you could win a prize.

The student prizes are:
Chilly’s water bottle
Mobile phone solar charger

We also have a staff prize:
Gardeners/allotment tool and tuck box

We have an additional prize, a selection of locally roasted coffee, for a photo of a Department of Economics reusable mug.


The deadline for entry is the end of Friday 15 June 2018. Send your photo to us at @uoyeconomical on Twitter or Instagram, #showusyourmug, or email eco-nomical@york.ac.uk

Winners will be announced on the Eco-nomical website and on twitter @uoyeconomical, on Monday 18 June 2018.

Why are we running this competition? Over 99% of all disposable coffee cups in the UK are not recycled, leading to about 2.5 billion coffee cups being thrown away every year. There has been discussion in parliament about the introduction of a ‘latte levy’, while major retailers have taken action in the last few months, by offering increased discounts, adding a surcharge on disposable cups or pledging to recycle coffee cups.

Walk Cycle Festival, 28 May – 3 June 2018

York Bike Belles are hosting the city’s second, week-long Walk Cycle Festival from Sunday 27 May – Sunday 3 June 2018.ilya-ilyukhin-122332-unsplash

The festival launches with a community party in Rowntree Park on Sunday 27 May from 11 am – 4 pm.  The schedule of events for the rest of the week include several guided cycle rides – for example, to hear the dawn chorus, to paint a mural, or to a social with a BBQ and live music.  Or if you’d prefer to walk rather than cycle, why not try the Parklife Walk with champagne picnic, or a Promenade with the Bard.

If your bicycle could use a tune up, throughout the week you can get a free bike check at Cycle Heaven at the Angel on Bishopthorpe Road, and a free hot drink from Angel on the Green. Free bike fixes and security marking are available at the community party on Sunday 27 May.

If you’d like to give cycling a go, York Bike Belles are holding their next Cake Confidence event on Saturday 26 May – offering chats, bike loans, and cycle confidence training.

For more details, including a schedule, visit the York Bike Belles website.


Green Chemistry Lecture, 13 March 2018

Green Chemistry for tomorrow’s world today – Tuesday 13 March 2018, 19:30, National Science Learning Centre, University of York

Dr Avtar Matharu from the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence is giving the Archbishop Holgate’s Annual Science Lecture on the topic of green chemistry, and how we can develop circular economies.

Admission is free and no booking is required.