Thomas Sterner

Senior Contributing Economist


Areas of expertise:
Selection and design of environmental policy instruments; economics in general; climate and energy; natural resource economics

Thomas Sterner works with the Office of the Chief Economst, participating in various projects related to climate, energy, fisheries and ecosystems. Thomas served as EDF's Visiting Chief Economist from 2012 to 2013.

Thomas is professor of environmental economics at the University of Gothenburg. For the academic year 2015-2016 he was elected visiting professor at the Collège de France in Paris. His inauguration lecture was titled “The Menu of Environmental Policy Instruments.”

His main research interests lie in the design of policy instruments. Within this broad area he has focused on a number of applications such as economics of energy use and climate change as well as resource management in developing countries. Recent articles of interest include one on policy instruments for the Anthropocene.

Another part of Thomas’ research focuses on the design and use of social discount rates. Recently published articles within this area are “Discounting and relative consumption” and “Determining Benefits and Costs for Future Generations”. He has had several presentations on the topic, most recently at “The Shift Forum” organized by the French Think Tank “The Shift Project”, which collaborates intensely with corporate and political leaders. A version this and a selection of other speeches are available through University of Gothenburg's Department of Economics.

Thomas also focuses on interaction with policy-makers and is a consultant to numerous country governments and to organizations and companies, such as the World Bank, Volvo and the Geneva Associations.Recent publications:

  • “SOS” Blog post in Nature Research Blog for Earth Day 2019. 2019-04-22.
  • “En Suède, le succès de la taxe CO2 presque trentenaire”. Interview by Par Anne-Françoise Hivert in Le Monde. 2019-04-02.

For further information, see Thomas Sterner’s personal homepage at the University of Gothenburg.


Dr. Sterner is a professor of environmental economics at the university of Gothenburg in Sweden, where he has built up one of the larger research teams in Europe. His team has started an organization called Environment for Development through which they and Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C., collaborate with six research centers in Africa, China and Central America. They do research on pollution and natural resource management and communicate the research to policy makers to try to make a difference.

He is also a past president of the European Association or Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE) and a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC.

  • Phd in Economics
  • Recipient of the Myrdal Prize
  • Associate Editor of Environmental and Resource Economics
  • On the board of MISTRA and various other boards.


R. Ahuja, et al. “From Copenhagen to Paris – the Current State of Climate Negotiations” Foreign Affairs. November 25, 2015.

T. Sterner. “The Paris climate-change conference needs to be more ambitious” The Economist. November 18, 2015.

Sterner, Thomas. “Higher costs of climate change” Nature 527: 177-178 (November 12, 2015).

O. Johansson-Stenman and T. Sterner. “Discounting and relative consumption” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. May 2015.

Wagner, Gernot, Tomas Kåberger, Susanna Olai, Michael Oppenheimer, Katherine Rittenhouse, and Thomas Sterner. “Push renewables to spur carbon pricing” Nature 525: 27–29 (3 September 2015).

Afsah, Shakeb; Allen Blackman; Jorge H. Garcia and Thomas Sterner. (2013) Environmental Regulation and Public Disclosure: The Case of PROPER in Indonesia [PDF] RFF Press.

K. Arrow, et al. “Determining Benefits and Costs for Future Generations” Science. July 26, 2013.

Press materials