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Michel Köhler holds a degree in Industrial Engineering focusing on renewable energy and international climate policy. After his studies, with study-abroad experiences in Canada, he worked for the wind power developer SoWiTec managing financial components of wind projects in Latin America. From 2010 to 2014 he worked for the climate policy consultancy Perspectives in Hamburg focusing on climate policy advice, most notably studies for promoting mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. Furthermore he was increasingly working on the design of climate finance frameworks. Since spring 2014, Michel works as an independent climate policy consultant and is engaged as co-founder of the climate policy advisory network “the greenwerk”. As of January 2015 he will focus on his PhD assessing options for an “Infrastructure Pension Fund”.
Many developed and developing countries are facing a historical challenge: Decreasing resources and anthropogenic climate change require a transformation of the energy supply system leading to substantial infrastructure investments. There is a need for reliable investments, adequate participation and broad backing among the population. Such conditions are not given in many countries, jeopardizing a sustainable energy transformation.
At the same time the pension systems of many developed countries face significant challenges due to demography and shortcomings of private pension insurances. A decreasing number of contributors for public systems as well as the crisis of the financial markets might lead to substantially increased poverty levels amongst the pensioners.
The envisaged PhD discusses an innovative solution covering both challenges at once: The population allocates pension payments to a regulated infrastructure fund that finances long-term infrastructure projects in the context of the energy system transformation. After implementation, utilization revenues are channeled back to the fund and finally to the population as pension payments.
In the context of the PhD possible frameworks for the infrastructure pension fund will be explored according to a multi-criteria analysis reflecting impacts on contributors as well as investments in long-term infrastructure projects. Potential examples are a public fund as established in Norway or a regulated pension product as in Sweden.
The PhD focuses on analyzing and implementing the idea in the German political context. However as this concept can be beneficial for both developed countries with existing but deficient pension insurances as well as emerging economies that currently establish pension systems and energy infrastructure, the PhD will also explore perspectives for developing countries and their need to establish sustainable development pathways.