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Hisham Zerriffi
Assistant Professor and Ivan Head South/North Research Chair, Liu Institute for Global Issues
Office: Liu Institute for Global Issues, Room 101C
Office Phone: (604) 827-4468
Fax: (604) 822-6966
Dr. Zerriffi’s research is at the intersection of technology, energy and the environment, with a particular focus on rural areas of the developing world. Much of his research focuses on institutional factors impacting the diffusion of new technology, determinants and patterns of household energy choice and welfare implications of rural energy use. Prior to joining the UBC Faculty, Dr. Zerriffi was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford University. Dr. Zerriffi holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in Engineering and Public Policy.


Research Interests

· energy, environment and rural development

Current Research

· the role of institutions in the deployment and diffusion of small-scale energy technologies

· business models used to provide distributed electricity to rural areas in Brazil, Cambodia and China

· environmental effectiveness of rural renewable energy programs

· survey analyses on household time budgets and on determinants of household electricity consumption

For more information about Professor Zerriffi's research, graduate supervision (including how to apply to join his research group) and recent publications, please visit



20 May 2015
Hisham Zerriffi
Article co-authored by Professor Hisham Zerriffi, Ivan Head South/North Research Chair, Liu Institute for Global Issues
7 January 2015
Sriniketh Nagavarapu, Himani Phadke, Mark C Thurber, Hisham Zerriffi, Gireesh Shrimali
A publication in the topic of energy for sustainable development on the large-scale commercial distribution of advanced biomass stoves in India, co-authored by Hisham Zerriffi.
4 February 2014
Philippe Le Billon, Hisham Zerriffi, Sara D. Edler
Journal article written by Sara D. Edler, Hisham Zerriffi and Philippe Le Billon published in the Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 32, Pages 264-274.
1 October 2013
Hisham Zerriffi
On May 21, 2013, Hisham Zerriffi spoke at the Global Energy Assessment West Coast Launch event, held at Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy.
18 June 2013
Hisham Zerriffi, Emily Anderson
An exploration of the implications of seeking cobenefits in carbon agroforestry programs.
24 July 2012
Hisham Zerriffi
A major energy challenge of the 21st century is the health and welfare of 2.7 billion people worldwide, who currently rely on burning biomass in traditional household cooking systems. This Special Issue on Clean Cooking Fuels and Technologies in Developing Economies builds upon an IAEE workshop on this subject, held in Istanbul in 2008 (Foell et al., 2008). It includes several papers from that workshop plus papers commissioned afterwards. The major themes of that workshop and this Special Issue are: • Analytical and decision frameworks for analysis and policy development for clean cooking fuels. • Making energy provisioning a central component of development strategies. • Strategies/business models of suppliers of modern fuels and technologies. • Analysis of successes/failures of past policies and programs to improve access to clean cooking. This introductory paper serves as a preamble to the 11 papers in this Special Issue. It provides a brief background on household cooking fuels and technologies, including: (1) their implications for sustainable development, health and welfare, gender impacts, and environment/climate issues; (2) options and scenarios for improved household cooling systems; and (3) discussions of institutions, programs and markets. It closes with “Research and Action Agendas”, initially developed during the 2008 workshop.
24 November 2011
Hisham Zerriffi
The provision of adequate, reliable, and affordable energy has been considered as a cornerstone of development. More than one-third of the world's population has a very limited access to modern energy services and suffers from its various negative consequences. Researchers have been exploring various dimensions of household energy use in order to design strategies to provide secure access to modern energy services. However, despite more than three decades of effort, our understanding of household energy use patterns is very limited, particularly in the context of rural regions of the developing world. Through this paper, the past and the current trends in the field of energy analysis are investigated. The literature on rural energy and energy transition in developing world has been explored and the factors affecting households' decisions on energy use are listed. The and the factors affecting households' decisions on energy use are listed. The gaps identified in the literature on rural household energy analysis provide a basis for developing an alternative model that can create a more realistic view of household energy use. The three dimensional energy profile is presented as a new conceptual model for assessment of household energy use. This framework acts as a basis for building new theoretical and empirical models of rural household energy use.
24 November 2011
Hisham Zerriffi
Burning of biomass for cooking is associated with health problems and climate change impacts. Many previous efforts to disseminate improved stoves – primarily by governments and NGOs – have not been successful. Based on interviews with 12 organizations selling improved biomass stoves, we assess the results to date and future prospects of commercial stove operations in India. Specifically, we consider how the ability of these businesses to achieve scale and become self-sustaining has been influenced by six elements of their respective business models: design, customers targeted, financing, marketing, channel strategy, and organizational characteristics. The two companies with the most stoves in the field shared in common generous enterprise financing, a sophisticated approach to developing a sales channel, and many person-years of management experience in marketing and operations. And yet the financial sustainability of improved stove sales to households remains far from assured. The only company in our sample with demonstrated profitability is a family-owned business selling to commercial rather than household customers. The stove sales leader is itself now turning to the commercial segment to maintain flagging cash flow, casting doubt on the likelihood of large positive impacts on health from sales to households in the near term.
24 November 2011
Hisham Zerriffi, Milind Kandlikar, Simon Donner
At the 2010 Cancun Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international community agreed in principle to one of the largest development programs in history. The developed nations pledged to mobilize U.S.$100 billion per year by the year 2020 to “address the needs of developing countries” in responding to climate change (1). The funds, which may apply to adaptation and mitigation, are proposed to flow through multiple channels, including existing development banks, official development assistance, bilateral programs, international private investment flows (e.g., carbon markets), and other public and private mechanisms. Recommendations provided by a transitional committee for the management and operation of the proposed climate change financing will be considered by the parties to the UNFCCC at the upcoming conference in Durban, South Africa (2).
17 November 2011
Milind Kandlikar, Hisham Zerriffi
A quantitative assessment of the national representation of authors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
30 September 2011
Despite years of effort primarily by governments and donors the ability of large portions of the world's population to access modern and efficient energy services remains out of reach. Roughly 1.5 billion people live without access to electricity and 2.5 billion rely on biomass for their primary cooking fuel, often using highly inefficient and polluting cookstoves. Scaling up the effort to solve this energy-poverty problem requires innovation in service delivery which includes possible changes in both ownership of energy service delivery organizations and the ways in which energy is financed. This paper reviews options for innovative business models to scale up energy access and, in particular, focuses on both producer and consumer-side financing options that can ensure sustainability of energy access efforts.
1 September 2011
Hisham Zerriffi
Prof. Hisham Zerriffi outlines the energy poverty problem in this TEDx Georgia Straight Forum "The New Energy".
8 April 2011
Hisham Zerriffi, Milind Kandlikar, Claudia Ho Lem
28 February 2011
Hisham Zerriffi
Professor Hisham Zerriffi's new book will be released in December and is now available for preorder.
1 November 2010
Hisham Zerriffi
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
20 August 2008
Hisham Zerriffi
A pre-conference workshop was organized in conjunction with the 31st International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) international conference in Istanbul on the 16th and 17th of June, 2008.
17 June 2008
Hisham Zerriffi
International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Volume 2, Issue 1, Page 90-117 – 2008
8 May 2008
Hisham Zerriffi
Despite over a century of investment in electric power systems, there are roughly 1.6 billion people who lack access to electricity service, mainly in rural areas.
1 September 2007
  Business Models for Distributed Electrification
This study examines business model characteristics and institutional factors important for determining success and failure in the use of small scale technologies for rural electrification. It also presents an alternative vision for how to use these technologies to contribute to rural electrification and rural development.
  Determinants of Rural Electricity Consumption in Hubei, China
This study uses econometric methods to analyze rural electricity consumption patterns in rural areas of Hubei, China. Data was collected on both households and township and village enterprises.
  Effectiveness of Global Environment Facility Funding of Rural Energy Projects
This study uses project documents from the Global Environment Facility to determine carbon mitigation costs of rural energy projects and whether funding for incremental costs were covered by additional GEFfunds.
  Rural Energy and Human Health
This project is developing an integrated framework for understanding the complex relationships between rural energy use, socio-ecological systems and human health. It will highlight areas in which further research is needed and where policies can be developed to improve human and ecological welfare.
Making Small Work: Business Models for Electrifying the World
Despite over a century of investment in electric power systems, there are roughly 1.6 billion people who lack access to electricity service, mainly in rural areas.
Development of a New Theoretical Model of Rural Energy Transitions
More than two billion people worldwide rely on traditional forms of energy for cooking/heating and another 1.5 billion people have no electricity.
  Climate Science, Equity and Development: The Role of International Institutions in Capacity Building for Climate Change
Due to its global nature, the climate change problem is one that reveals wide disparities between countries.
  The Right to Food: Food Access, Food Subsidy, and Residue-Based Bioenergy Production in India
Researchers at the Liu Institute for Global Issues will be working to answer important questions on food security in India, thanks to a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
  Indoor air quality guidelines: household fuel combustion
Professor Hisham Zerriffi was co-lead on the Financing review that contributed to the development of new indoor air quality guidelines for household fuel combustion.
  Effects of Community-Based Natural Resource Management on Household Welfare in Namibia
Assistant Professor, Hisham Zerriffi explores the development of a widespread community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) program in Namibia, which makes it an ideal location to analyze the connection between conservation and socioeconomic well-being of local communities.
Currently Teaching:
RMES-520: Climate Change, ENVR-410: Energy, Environment and Society
Graduate Student Supervision:
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