Augusto Ospital Receives Heinz König Award 2023


Outstanding Environmental Economics Research at the Mannheim Conference on Energy and the Environment at ZEW

Sebastian Rausch (Head of the ZEW Research Unit "Environmental and Climate Economics"), Augusto Ospital (winner of the Heinz-König-Award), Verena Amann (HR Director at MVV Energie AG), and Thomas Kohl (Managing Director of ZEW.) at the presentation of the Heinz-König-Award 2023.

ZEW Mannheim has been presenting the Heinz König Award for exceptional scientific research to young scholars for 23 years. This year, Augusto Ospital from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) was awarded the prize for his work on “Urban policy and spatial exposure to environmental risk”. In his research, the doctoral student shows the correlation between plans of urban land use and construction projects in areas that are at a higher risk of forest fires and extreme weather events.

“With his innovative and methodologically sophisticated work, Augusto Ospital sheds light on the relationship between private sector decisions and institutional arrangements in an urban context, and how this interplay can result in climate-related risks that endanger both property and human life. This is important for the development of appropriate measures to adapt to climate change,” Professor Sebastian Rausch, head of ZEW’s “Environmental and Climate Economics” Unit, explains the decision of the scientific committee to select him as the award winner.

Fewer new buildings in safe areas

In California, the award-winning study found, zoning regulations with fixed numbers of houses lead to less new construction in safer areas. These regulations also result in increased housing costs, driving people to build homes in peripheral areas that are more susceptible to natural hazards. In the case of San Diego, Ospital calculates that the number of residents in areas threatened by climate risks will increase by 12 per cent over the next four decades due to a combination of existing land use regulations, intensification of wildfire risk and population growth.

Study contributes to a better understanding of climate change

The Heinz König Young Scholar Award of ZEW comes with an endowment of 5,000 euros and includes the chance to spend a three-month research visit at ZEW. Every year, the research award is sponsored by a different member of the ZEW Sponsors’ Association, this year by MVV Energie AG. Verena Amann, HR Director at MVV, congratulates the award winner: “MVV, as a member of the ZEW Sponsors’ Association, has a long-standing commitment to supporting economic research. For me personally, it is a great pleasure to honour young and promising research talents like Augusto Ospital. His award-winning research helps us gain a better understanding of how legal framework conditions impact human behaviour, especially in the context of climate change. The results of such evidence-based studies contribute to the transformation of energy systems, making them all the more valuable.”

Conference on energy and environmental economics

The Heinz König Young Scholar Award 2023 was presented at the eleventh Mannheim Conference on Energy and the Environment. Each year, the conference addresses a broad range of topics concerning the relationship between energy supply and use, economic prosperity, environmental concerns, and policy regulation. The latest edition of the conference once again provided a platform for young scholars and renowned researchers to present and discuss innovative research in the field of energy and environmental economics. Out of 96 submissions from PhD students, 28 were selected to participate in the conference, exchange ideas with peers, and apply for the Heinz König Young Scholar Award.

About the Heinz König Young Scholar Award

The Heinz König Young Scholar Award is named after the late founding director of ZEW, Professor Heinz König, who died in 2002. The award recognises excellent empirical papers by up-and-coming researchers. This is done in the spirit of Heinz König, for whom it was a great concern to specifically promote young academics. ZEW continues this tradition to this day.

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Eleventh Mannheim Conference on Energy and the Environment

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