Portrait of a curious guy

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A conversation by Aurora D’Aprile

Numbers are important but are not the only thing. Notes, words, flavors, memories matter, too. A researcher at the EIEE and the ECIP division (Economic analysis of the Climate Impacts and Policy Division), Andrea Bigano makes sure not to miss anything.

What’s your job at the CMCC Foundation?
I do research on energy economics, particularly on energy efficiency and the policies that promote it, and on climate change impacts and adaptation in tourism and the energy sector.  Lately, also on climate finance.

Which road led you to CMCC?
I studied Economics at Bocconi, I did a master’s degree in Environmental Economics at UCL London and a Ph.D. in Economics at Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven. I worked at the Center for Economic Studies at KU Leuven and at ICTP in Trieste, then at FEEM and at the same time since 2011 at CMCC.

Is your current job the one you had dreamed of when you were a child?
As a child, I wanted to be an aircraft pilot, but myopia got in the way since the first year of high school. But I’ve always been a curious guy and interested in the environment. Growing up, I became keen on how to find effective solutions to environmental problems. Research in environmental economics has been the natural outlet for these interests.

Could you tell us the most beautiful moment in your experience at CMCC?
One thing I did while I was at CMCC, but as an independent expert: a judicial appraisal on behalf of a Canadian native tribe living on the coast of British Columbia. It was a very touching experience. The Gitxaala First Nation was one of about 40 tribes who opposed a pipeline construction project to bring oil from Alberta tar sands to the coast, passing close to the natives’ lands. An accident could have compromised their territory and their way of life. I was asked to review the oil spill risk assessment and I found several gaps. I testified in this sense in April of 2013 (unfortunately via teleconference, but I was ready to go to Prince Rupert!). One of the tribe elders testified before me, and it was like listening to Black Elk. At that stage, the trial ended in favor of the building contractor, but following appeals reversed the judgment and the project was closed in 2016.

What’s on your workstation?
Laptop, screen, and cables, a reasonable amount of papers, a coaster with a European logo, several artisanal handcrafts made by my daughters when they were at the kindergarten, a mug with an inscription.

What’s the ritual never missing in your workday?
A rich lunch!

How do you get to work in the morning?
By train or subway, both stops are very close to the office.

What do you do in your spare time?
I’m learning to play the piano, with mixed fortunes. Currently, I’m struggling with a sonata by Mozart (which is prevailing over me) and with a ragtime by Scott Joplin (which promises well). What I enjoy most is the jazz piano. I like listening to different music genres, whatever is honest and original. Sometimes I go to symphonic concerts (such as Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra at Auditorium Milano), but I did not miss a Springsteen’s show in San Siro. I love reading, especially English, American, and Latin American literature. I’m not really into sport. I go walking in the mountains when I can, and I like climbing but I stopped a few years ago.

Cinema or literature: give us a title and explain why you chose it.
I recommend two books. First, “Imprimatur” by Monaldi and Sorti, because it is an example of how a rigorous research (history research, in this case) can change things (I will not tell you more, just read the book!), and deliver an engaging and remarkable reading. Second, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson, because it is a great example of effective scientific dissemination.

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