Ruben Lubowski

AVP, Climate and Forests, and Chief Natural Resource Economist


Areas of expertise:
climate economics, environmental markets, REDD+, land use, agriculture, forestry, climate change, bioenergy

Ruben Lubowski, Ph.D., oversees EDF’s efforts to reduce emissions by protecting tropical forests, including by building markets and finance approaches for reducing deforestation at large scales.  He also oversees analytic efforts and works with experts and practitioners to support the design and implementation of robust market-based climate policies in key jurisdictions around the world.  

Ruben played a lead role in developing and currently advises the Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator, a non-profit climate finance intermediary to facilitate high-integrity carbon market transactions and deliver private and public funding for large-scale efforts to protect tropical forests.   

He is widely recognized for his expertise in analyzing and modeling land-use changes and policy approaches for reducing emissions through forestry, agriculture, and bioenergy activities. Ruben has testified before the U.S. Senate and developed analyses for decision-makers around the world. He has presented in academic and policy settings and published in books, government reports, and professional journals.

He was a lead author of the Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) and International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) handbook on Emissions Trading System design and implementation. He teaches carbon pricing as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and has also taught as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.



Before joining EDF, Ruben spent five years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service as a natural resource and agricultural economist and the agency’s specialist on land use.

He also developed and managed environmental projects in Latin America at the United Nations Development Program and conducted research at the World Bank and the Harvard Institute for International Development. Ruben spent two years in rainforest communities in Sri Lanka designing and conducting surveys to quantify the value of forest products.

His dissertation was the first nationwide statistical analysis of land-use changes in the United States. He received his Ph.D. and master’s degree in Political Economy and Government and his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.


English, Spanish, French


 “A Real Options Framework for Reducing Emissions from Tropical Deforestation: Financing Tools to Reconcile Short-Term Incentives with Long-Term Benefits from Conservation and Agricultural Intensification,” with Diego Herrera, Alexander Golub, Gabriela Leslie and Breno Pietracci. Ecosystem Services 49 (2021). 

“The economic value of tropical forests in meeting global climate stabilization goals,” with Sabine Fuss and Alexander Golub. Global Sustainability 4 (e1): 1–11 (2021).

“Business responses to climate policy uncertainty: Theoretical analysis of a twin deferral strategy and the risk-adjusted price of carbon,” with Alexander Golub and Pedro Piris-Cabezas.  Energy 205: 1-9 (2020).

“A carbon price by another name may seem sweeter: Consumers prefer upstream offsets to downstream taxes,” with David Hardisty, Alec T. Beall, Annie Petsonk, and Rainer Romero-Canyas. Journal of Environmental Psychology 66: 101342 (2019). 

“Flexible Options for Greenhouse Gas-Emitting Energy Producer,” with Andrey Krasovskii, Nikolay Khabarov, and Michael Obersteiner. Energies 12(19): 3792 (2019).

“Flobsion—Flexible Option with Benefit Sharing,” with Nikolay Khabarov, Andrey Krasovskii and Michael Obersteiner.  International Journal of Financial Studies 7(2), 22 (2019).  

“Escaping the climate policy uncertainty trap: Options contracts for REDD+” with Alexander Golub, Sabine Fuss, Jake Hiller, Nikolay Khabarov, Nicolas Koch, Andrey Krasovskii, Florian Kraxner, Timothy Laing, Michael Obersteiner, Charles Palmer, Pedro Piris-Cabezas, Wolf Heinrich Reuter, Jana Szolgayová, Luca Taschini, and Johanna Wehkamp. 2018.  Climate Policy 1-9 (2018). 

“Balancing Risks from Climate Policy Uncertainties: The Role of Options on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation,” with Alexander Golub and Pedro Piris-Cabezas.  Ecological Economics 138C: 90-98 (2017).  

“REDD+ in ICAO: Ready for Takeoff,” with Rafael Grillo, Michael Wolosin, Alec Roth, Pedro Piris-Cabezas, and Garrett Russo. Carbon and Climate Law Review 10(2): 134-143 (2016).

“The Potential of REDD+: Key Economic Modeling Insights and Issues,” with Steven K. Rose. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 7(1): 67-90 (2013).

“Structuring Economic Incentives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation within Indonesia,” with Jonah Busch, Fabiano Godoy, Marc Steininger, Arief A. Yusuf, Kemen Austin, Jenny Hewson, Daniel Juhn, Muhammad Farid, and Frederick Boltz, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 9(4): 1062-1067 (2012).

“Linking Reduced Deforestation and a Global Carbon Market: Implications for Clean Energy Technology and Policy Flexibility,” with Valentina Bosetti, Alexander Golub, and Anil Markandya. Environment and Development Economics 16(4): 479-505 (2011).

“On International Equity in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation,” with Andrea Cattaneo, Jonah Busch, Anna Creed, Bernardo Strassburg, Frederick Boltz, and Ralph Ashton.  Environmental Science and Policy 13(8): 742-753 (2010).

“The End of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” with Daniel Nepstad, Britaldo S. Soares-Filho, Frank Merry, André Lima, Paulo Moutinho, John Carter, Maria Bowman, Andrea Cattaneo, Hermann Rodrigues, Stephan Schwartzman, David G. McGrath, Claudia M. Stickler, Pedro Piris-Cabezas, Sergio Rivero, Ane Alencar, Oriana Almeida, and Osvaldo Stella. Science 326: 1350-351 (2009).

“Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error,” with Timothy D. Searchinger, Steven P. Hamburg,  Jerry Melillo, William Chameides, Petr Havlik, Daniel M. Kammen, Gene E. Likens, Michael Obersteiner, Michael Oppenheimer, and G. Philip Robertson,  William H. Schlesinger, G. David Tilman. Science 326: 527-528 (2009).

“Comparing Climate and Cost Impacts of Reference Levels for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation,” with Jonah Busch, Bernardo Strassburg, Andrea Cattaneo, Aaron Bruner, Richard Rice, Anna Creed, Ralph Ashton and Frederick Boltz. Environmental Research Letters 4 (2009). 

“What Drives Land-Use Changes in the United States? A National Analysis of Landowner Decisions,” with Andrew Plantinga and Robert Stavins. Land Economics 84(4): 529-550, lead article (2008).

“Economic Impacts of the U.S. Soybean Aphid Infestation: A Multi-Regional Competitive Dynamic Analysis,” with C.S. Kim, Glenn Schaible, Lynn Garrett, and Donna Lee. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 37(2): 227-242 (2008).

“Enduring Impacts of Land Retirement Policies: Evidence from the Conservation Reserve Program,” with Michael Roberts. Land Economics 83 (4): 516-538 (2007).

“Econometric Estimation of the Carbon Sequestration Supply Function,” with Andrew Plantinga and Robert Stavins. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 51(2): 135-152, lead article (2006).

“Prevention or Control: Optimal Government Policies for Invasive Species Management,” with C.S. Kim, Jan Lewandrowski, and Michael Eiswerth. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 35(1), 29-49 (2006).  

“A Model of Producer Incentives for Livestock Disease Management,” with Ram Ranjan. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 19(5): 315-325 (2005).

“Farm-Level Production Effects from Participation in Government Commodity Programs: Did the 1996 Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act Make a Difference?” with Nigel Key and Michael Roberts. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(5): 1211-1219 (2005).

“How Cost-Effective are Land Retirement Auctions: Estimating the Difference between Payments and Willingness to Accept in the Conservation Reserve Program,” with Barrett Kirwan and Michael Roberts. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(5): 1239-1247 (2005). 

“The Effects of Potential Land Development on Agricultural Land Prices,” with Andrew Plantinga and Robert Stavins.  Journal of Urban Economics 52(3): 561-581 (2002).

“A Method for the Economic Valuation of Non-Timber Tropical Forest Products,” with Ricardo Godoy and Anil Markandya. Economic Botany 47(3): 220-233 (1993).

“Guidelines for the Economic Valuation of Non-Timber Tropical Forest Products,” with Ricardo Godoy.  Current Anthropology 33(4): 423-433 (1992).


Deforestation and Climate Change. Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, edited with Valentina Bosetti. Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment, and Sustainable Development. Edward Elgar, Northampton, MA (2010).



Designing a Prototype Emissions Trading System for Colombia, with Suzi Kerr, Juan-Pablo Montero, Angela Cadena, Mario Londoño, Adriana Cavallo, Lisa Lafferty, Soffia Alarcon, Oscar Rodriguez, Angela Solanilla, Guillermo Rudas, Luis Ignacio Betancur, Luis Fernando Macías, David Marín, Mauricio Palma, Camila Aguilar and José Farfán. Report for the World Bank Partnership for Market Readiness and Colombian Ministry for Environment and Sustainable Development (2019). 

Mobilizing Blended Finance to Reduce Emissions from Tropical Deforestation: The REDD+ Acceleration Fund Investment Blueprint, co-led with Eron Bloomgarden. Environmental Defense Fund, Rockefeller Foundation, and Climate and Forest Capital, New York, NY (2018). 

“Climate Teams: A New Model for Investor-Host Climate Cooperation,” with Suzi Kerr and Robert Heilmayr. In Robert N. Stavins, and Robert C. Stowe, eds. International Cooperation in East Asia to Address Climate Change. Cambridge, MA. Harvard Project on Climate Agreements (2018).

Doubling Down on Carbon Pricing: Laying the Foundation for Greater Ambition, with Jonathan Camuzeaux, Dirk Forrister, Nathaniel Keohane, Jeremy Proville, Katie Sullivan, Jeff Swartz and Derek Walker.  Environmental Defense Fund and International Emissions Trading Association.  Washington, DC (2016).

Emissions Trading in Practice: A Handbook on Design and Implementation, Lead Author with Suzi Kerr; also with Catherine Leining, Leah Murphy, Katherine Rittenhouse, and Gernot Wagner. World Bank Partnership for Market Readiness and International Carbon Action Partnership. Washington, DC (2016).

Environmental Reserve Quotas in Brazil: An Ex-Ante Assessment, with Peter May, Paula Bernasconi, and Sven Wunder.  CIFOR Occasional Paper 31. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Bogor, Indonesia (2015).

Leveraging private sector finance for REDD+ Implementation: Financing Mechanisms and investible entities. White Paper.  Global Canopy Programme, U.N. Environment Programme, Environmental Defense Fund, and Permian Global.  Global Landscapes Forum (2015).

“Bridging the REDD+ Finance Gap,” with Alexander Golub, Luca Taschini, and Rowan Parkhouse. In Greenhouse Gas Market Report 2014.  International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), Washington, DC (2014).

Mexico Deforestation Vulnerability Analysis, with Max Wright, Kalifi Ferretti-Gallon, A. Javier Miranda, Marc Steininger and Jonah Busch. Mexico REDD+ Alliance and The Nature Conservancy and Project Report.  Environmental Defense Fund (lead), Conservation International, and Center for Global Development (2014). 

“Managing Risks and Returns of Carbon Market Strategies for REDD+ and Other Emissions Reductions in Brazil,” with Alexander Golub and Pedro Piris-Cabezas. In Brazil: An Economic and Environmental Superpower in the 21st Century. Center for Sustainability Studies.  Getulio Vargas Foundation, São Paulo, Brazil (2014).  

Roadmap for Implementing a Greenhouse Gas Trading System in Chile: Core Design Options and Policy Decision-Making Considerations. Report to the World Bank Partnership for Market Readiness, with team led by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand (2012). 

“Indonesia’s Climate Change Commitment and the Critical Role of REDD+: Findings from the OSIRIS-Indonesia Model,” with Jonah Busch, Fahan Helmy, Muhammad Farid, and Frederick Boltz, in DNPI Green Review on REDD+, Dewan Nasional Perubahan Iklim (DNPI)/ National Council on Climate Change, Jakarta, Indonesia (2011).

“Epilogue: REDD Past, Present, and Future,” with Valentina Bosetti, in Deforestation and Climate Change. Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, edited by V. Bosetti and R. Lubowski. Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment, and Sustainable Development. Edward Elgar, Northampton, MA (2010).

Including International Forest Carbon Incentives in Climate Policy: Understanding the Economics, with Brian C. Murray and Brent Sohngen.  Nicholas Institute Report NI R 09-03, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, Durham, NC (2009).  

“Calibration of a Land Supply Function Using Transition Probabilities,” with S. Amer Ahmed and Thomas W. Hertel.  Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Research Memorandum No. 14, Purdue, IN (2008)

“What are the Costs and Potentials of REDD?” Chapter 3 in Moving Ahead with REDD: Issues, Options, and Implications, Arild Angelsen, ed.  Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia (2008).

Environmental Effects of Agricultural Land-Use Change: The Role of Economics and Policy, with Shawn Bucholtz, Roger Claassen, Michael Roberts, Joseph Cooper, Anna Gueorguieva, and Robert Johansson. Economic Research Report No. ERR-25. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. (2006). 

Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2002, with Marlow Vesterby, Shawn Bucholtz, Alba Baez, and Michael J. Roberts.  Economic Information Bulletin No. EIB-14.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service (2006). 

The Conservation Reserve Program: Economic Implications for Rural America, with Patrick  Sullivan, Daniel Hellerstein, Leroy Hansen, Robert Johansson, Steven Koenig, William McBride, David McGranahan, Michael Roberts, Stephen Vogel, and Shawn Bucholtz. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.  Agricultural Economic Report No. AER-834 (2004).  

“Chapter 1. Land Use,” with Marlow Vesterby and Shawn Bucholtz.  Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators (AREI), 2006 Edition.  USDA Economic Research Service, Economic Information Bulletin No. EIB-16. (2006).    

“Agricultural Policy Affects Land Use and the Environment,” with Roger Claassen and Michael Roberts. Amber Waves, Washington, DC (September, 2006).

“Growing More with Less Cropland,” Amber Waves, Washington, DC (June, 2006). 

“Behind the Data: Estimating U.S. Cropland Area,” with Marlow Vesterby and Kenneth Krupa Amber Waves, Washington, DC (July, 2006).