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  • AXA IM and the AXA Research Fund announce the winner of the AXA IM Climate Transition Award

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AXA IM and the AXA Research Fund announce the winner of the AXA IM Climate Transition Award

  • 05 November 2021

AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM), in partnership with the AXA Research Fund, launched the “AXA IM Climate Transition Award” in September 2021, in order to recognise the key role of research in the fight against climate change.

Following a rigorous selection process, the Selection Committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Floor van der Hilst, from Utrecht University (Netherlands), has been awarded the AXA IM Climate Transition Award for her research on “Sustainability of Bioenergy” and will be granted €100,000 in recognition of the impact of her work which focusses on land-use change dynamics resulting from biomass production.

Numerous applications were received from researchers around the world, all focused on discovering the most effective ways to power the climate transition. Subjects included sustainable finance; blue carbon; sustainability of bioenergy; climate responsive and climate adaptive architecture; agricultural economics and policy; coastal adaptation with nature-based solutions; urban challenges and new chemistry to create batteries.

Commenting on the winner’s research, The Selection Committee said: “We examined the list of applicants with the utmost attention, looking at the robustness and quality of the science, the relevance to the award theme and the ability of the researcher to communicate her/his work. The potential benefit to society was also a major criterion. Dr. van der Hilst’s research included a strong socioeconomic and environmental focus, which is key to affecting the environmental change we need.”

Marie Bogataj, Head of the AXA Research Fund and Group Foresight, and Marco Morelli, Executive Chairman at AXA IM, both commented: “Research has played a pivotal role in the fight against climate change and its impact on our society. Continued support from – and for – the scientific community is at the heart of the transition to a net zero world. Science is key and continues to provide a number of pathways for the climate transition and major areas are yet to be tackled. With the AXA IM Climate Transition Award, we are seeking to combat climate-related risks and have a positive impact on society. We are very proud to see that this award will help Dr. van der Hilst continue her research and benefit the planet, people and communities.”

About the winner

Dr. Floor van der Hilst Associate Professor at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University, Netherlands

Topic of research: Sustainability of Bioenergy

Dr. van der Hilst’s research line focusses on land-use change dynamics resulting from biomass production and related impacts.

In order to meet the Paris Agreement and keep the global temperature rise well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, biomass is expected to play an important role in the future energy supply. However, the large-scale deployment of biomass for bioenergy and other novel biobased applications have raised several sustainability concerns: i.e greenhouse gas mitigation potential, the impact on biodiversity, soil quality and water availability as well as socio-economic impacts such as food security.

Many of the sustainability impacts are related to land-use change resulting from biomass feedstock production. The environmental and socio-economic impact of land-use change induced by bioenergy production strongly depends on the spatially heterogeneous biophysical and socio-economic conditions. Therefore, the sustainability of bioenergy production is greatly affected by the location of its feedstock production. For these reasons, very little can be stated in general terms on the sustainability of bioenergy. The uncertainty on the sustainability of bioenergy hampers implementation and therefore also impedes meeting climate change mitigation targets.

For more information about Dr. Floor van der Hilst, please see: https://www.uu.nl/staff/FvanderHilst


About the “AXA IM Climate Transition Award”

The award aims at supporting an advanced researcher between PhD + 8 years and PhD + 12 years maximum who will have demonstrated novelty, innovation and impact in his/her research in the area of climate transition.

Applications had to be submitted by the 6 October 2021.

Areas recognized by this award included:

  1. Innovative solutions and approaches to mitigation to reach net-zero by 2050.
  2. Nature-based solutions as a key component of our climate transition, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation. Effectiveness and co-existence with other proposed solutions.
  3. Measurement and tracking as the crux of the climate change issue, both in terms of assessing our limits and the extent of success or failure in reducing CO2 levels and other pollutants. For example, carbon pricing or alternative approaches to financial and economic incentives to CO2 (and other warming gas) reductions and measurement methodologies for both GHG emissions reduction and CO2 removal.
  4. Beyond CO2, the reduction of other shorter-lived climate forcers as a contribution to warming reduction.

For more information on the AXA IM Climate Transition Award: https://www.axa-im.com/climate-transition-award

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