Baptiste Gibrat, MALS

Baptiste Gibrat awarded Alumni Research Award

Baptiste Gibrat has been awarded the Alumni Research Award to support his thesis research. The award enabled him to travel to Uganda to conduct field research, aiming to understand the trade-offs involved in an innovative type of green investment, a carbon credit solution for farmers.

What program are you in? 

I am in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program, with a concentration in globalization studies. The MALS program has allowed me to take a wide range of courses, including courses from the Tuck School of Business and the Thayer School of Engineering.

What do you consider your hometown? 

I was born in Paris and spent my entire childhood there. I love the unique atmosphere Paris offers, making you feel part of an intimate history. Nothing beats spending the afternoon on the terrace of a Parisian café.

Where did you earn your undergraduate degree? 

I did the first two years of my undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to finish my undergraduate studies at Harvard University.

Who are the faculty that you are working with on this research? 

I am working with three amazing advisors. My first advisor, Peter DeShazo, used to work in the U.S. Foreign Service and is an expert in foreign policy and public diplomacy, among other areas. I met Professor DeShazo in his class, "The New Global Order: Tyrannies, Democracy, & Revolutions."

My second advisor, Ramon Lecuona, teaches Strategy at the Tuck School of Business. He worked for several years in the Office of the President of Mexico and I was able to take his course on Strategy in Emerging Markets.

My third advisor is Roberto Mangabeira Unger, a well-known Brazilian philosopher, jurist, and politician. Professor Unger has been a trusted mentor to me since I took his political economy class at Harvard.

I am extremely thankful to be working with such distinguished advisors who have significantly influenced my research and my life.

Tell me about your area of research.

The climate crisis is no longer news, and we need to find better ways to accelerate our transition to net zero emissions. Otherwise, the consequences of climate change will become increasingly catastrophic.

My research focuses on creating a framework to drive green investments. Green investments seek to promote sustainable development, reduce carbon emissions, and support the transition to a net zero economy. I explore possible solutions to drive and support such investments. I develop a framework that includes financial instruments, capital markets, regulatory and public incentives, the role of institutions, and disruptive technologies.

It intersects economics and energy, with a clear goal of finding practical, easily shareable answers.

What is its potential impact? 

The objective of my research is to inform policymakers and decision-makers about the solutions that can accelerate our transition to a net-zero economy.

Over the last few months, I have presented part of my research to decision-makers, and I am confident in the impact it can have. Indeed, I was able to meet with the Minister of Economy and Finance of Uruguay, Azuzena Arbeleche, to discuss sustainable development and climate change adaptation. I also presented results of a particular case study to the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Agriculture of Uganda.

Developing countries, although they have contributed the least to global warming, are the most impacted. This research can help them prepare to be leaders in the transition and work on a new model for industrialization based on green growth. On the other hand, my research can also support developed countries in implementing the solutions needed to start rethinking our fossil-fuel-dependent economic model.

How did you use the Alumni Research Award and/or what did it allow you to do? 

With the Alumni Research Award, I was able to travel to Uganda to conduct field research. My goal was to understand the trade-offs involved in considering an innovative type of green investment.

Specifically, I investigated a particular carbon credit solution where farmers and bioprocessing companies are paid to burn their organic waste in an oxygen-limited environment rather than out in the open. This process transforms organic waste into a charcoal-like product that can be used as fertilizer while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would have occurred if it had been burned in open air.

To conduct my research, I stayed at Makerere University, Uganda's largest and oldest university. There, I had the opportunity to discuss my research with professors and experts. During the trip, I also traveled over 1,000 kilometers across Uganda to meet with the country's largest sugar producers.

Through these interactions, I learned that there is significant potential for such investments in developing countries like Uganda, and I foresee that many of these investments will take place in the next few years. However, I observed that these investments will only succeed with strict regulations, as my interviews and field exploration revealed important design flaws.

Therefore, in my research, I recommend a specific pricing mechanism to ensure their sustainability.

Why did you choose Dartmouth to pursue your degree?

When I started studying in the United States, I quickly fell in love with the liberal arts education system. This was a new experience for me, as I had not been exposed to it during the first two years of my undergraduate degree. It inspired me to pursue a master's degree that would allow me to continue benefiting from this enriching educational approach. My teachers at Harvard suggested Dartmouth as an excellent environment for this. I then had the opportunity to meet with the MALS program director, Wole Ojurongbe. During our meeting, I quickly realized that Dartmouth and its rich traditions were indeed the right choice.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of your research or scholarship?

I have been playing the piano since I was a kid, and music has always played an important role in my life. I believe that everyone should dance at least once a day. I am lucky to live on campus at Casque and Gauntlet, where we have a grand piano in the living room that I can practice on every day.

What is your favorite place or most activity that you like best at Dartmouth or in the Upper Valley?

I love running in the Upper Valley. While they say all roads lead to Rome, I like to think that here, all roads lead to the Green. Dartmouth's unique position surrounded by nature allows me to disconnect and clear my mind. And with summer days coming up, I get to finish my run with a swim in the Connecticut River.