Department of Economics

Research student insight

Leyla Sayin


Leyla Sayin


Climate change is one of the most critical environmental issues that humanity has ever faced, and its main cause is the human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Leyla is undertaking her PhD in this area and aims to better understand how international climate change agreements can become successful.

Leyla completed her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at Bogazici University, Istanbul. After which, she developed an interest in economics and started her master's degree at Quantitative Economics from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

After graduating, she decided to pursue her interest in climate change and applied to undertake her research in the Department of Economics at the University of Bath. She was awarded the Ashworth PhD Scholarship to support her studies, which forms part of the Institute for Policy Research.

The accelerating speed of climate change


The human impact on our environment

Power station

Our environment, which is the basis of all human life, is adversely affected by greenhouse gas emissions. It is becoming clearer that this change will not slow down, but will accelerate instead.


Leyla has always been aware of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions following her studies in engineering, even though her focus was concentrated on the technical side of the subject (developing alternative energy sources).

I realised that mitigating or solving environmental problems requires a social and economic dimension. Given the severity of the issue, I believe any contribution would be valuable.

She became interested in mitigating the free-rider incentives in international climate change agreements, designing market-based policy instruments, and analysing their efficiency and applicability to the real world.

The global public good nature of the climate change constitutes strong incentives for the countries to free-ride. More specifically, the free-riding problem arises when some countries bear the mitigation costs, while others (the free-riders) avoid mitigation, but still enjoy the benefits of the reduced pollution.

The large uncertainties surrounding global climate change are believed to be one of the reasons behind the low participation in international climate change agreements. My work aims to show how resolution of these uncertainties affects the success of the agreements in terms of participation, global welfare, and abatement levels.

Findings from existing studies

Leyla has found there is recent literature on the game theoretic analysis of international environmental agreements, which combines the issues of free-riding and uncertainty.

With these studies I have found uncertainty and learning have been modelled in a very simplistic way. The general result from the literature is that the value of information can be negative in the strategic context of climate change agreements. This result seems discouraging, given that we have been undertaking intense research efforts to resolve these uncertainties.

Leyla would like to study this issue in a more sophisticated dynamic model, accounting for the fact of learning by research and learning by doing.

Currently she is working on the modelling process, which she is finding quite challenging.

I would like to explore learning-by-research in a dynamic framework; however, it is not very obvious how to model the relation between research efforts and the resolution of uncertainty, like uncertainty about the impact and damages from global emissions and the cost of reducing individual emissions.

Developing her research skills

Leyla has attended some PGSkills courses which are available at the University that have helped her further her research. Leyla also presented her research at the PhD Workshop in April 2014, for which she received valuable feedback and recommendations from staff in the department.

I find all the academic staff very helpful and encouraging from the day I arrived. They are willing to share their time and knowledge, and to provide guidance. It is a pleasure to be a part of a department that values its students.

Green career plans

Once she completes her PhD Leyla is hoping to work in academia, where she can pursue her research in climate change further.

Further information

To find out more about Leyla's research, you can contact her by email:

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