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PhD researcher wins major award for climate impact research

PhD researcher Tiancheng Yu has been honoured by the UK Academy of Sustainable Finance, Accountability and Governance (ASFAAG) for co-authoring a major study into the impact of environmental regulations on businesses.

After making a presentation at the Academy’s inaugural conference he won best PhD paper award for his research into how companies adapt to the policy risks of increasingly stringent climate and environmental regulations.

In particular, the paper studies the impact of climate policy risk on firms’ financing decisions, and it will soon appear in a Special Issue on Business and Climate Change in Management Science, a leading management journal.


Tiancheng, who is from Nanjing in China, has been studying in the UK for many years. He initially completed a Masters in Accounting and Finance from Edinburgh University, and after a brief period working back in China, he returned to the UK to begin his PhD in Finance, under the supervision of Professor Viet Dang and Dr. Ning Gao at AMBS in 2018.

As Tiancheng explains: “When I returned to China, I did have a spell working in a bank but quickly realised that my real passion was to stay in academia and use my research to make the world a better place. I have long been particularly interested in environmental policy. But the question I was really interested in was do we really understand the impacts of government policy in terms of how it shapes firms’ decisions?

“In the face of the climate crisis governments have to move quickly and really drive regulation to tackle climate change. Even during the pandemic there was no slowdown in global emissions which shows how important it is to move much more quickly. But at the same time governments have to think about the trade-offs and the impact for business.”

Doctoral study and research ideas

Tiancheng says once he got the PhD offer and scholarship from AMBS he was then able to talk through his ideas with his supervisors and the proposal for the paper was subsequently developed.

“Receiving this award is fantastic for me and a wonderful vindication of the value of my research,” he adds. “I benefitted immensely throughout my PhD study from the support of my supervisors and the Accounting and Finance (A&F) division.

“In particular, the PhD programme in the A&F division prepares students for essential skills in academia through comprehensive and systematic research training courses in the first year and several research activities such as research seminars. The mentorship between supervisors and PhD students provides the latter with insightful discussions, helpful suggestions, and continuous guidance.”

Important questions

Viet Dang, Professor of Finance at AMBS, said: “Tiancheng’s PhD thesis asks novel and important questions on climate finance, which has the potential to contribute to an emerging academic literature and provide relevant implications for corporate managers, investors, and policy makers.

“It has been enjoyable working with Tiancheng and helping him develop his research over the last few years. That Tiancheng received the best paper award from ASFAAG, and the paper was then accepted for publication in a major journal, is testament to the outstanding quality of his work.”

You can read more about the paper.