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Thomas Sterner

Department of
+46 31-786 10 43
Visiting address
Vasagatan 1
41124 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 640
405 30 Göteborg

About Thomas Sterner

Thomas Sterner is professor of environmental economics. For the academic year 2015-2016 he was elected as a visiting professor at the Collège de France. During the year he presented a series of seminars related to the design of economic policy instruments to manage local as well as global environmental problems.

In 2012-2013 he was on sabbatical leave from Gothenburg university and worked as Chief Economist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). His main areas of work at the EDF were, among other things, related to instrument design for climate policy and catch shares in fisheries.

During the last two decades he has built up the Environmental Economics Unit (EEU) at the University of Gothenburg, with a staff of about a dozen PhDs and another dozen graduate students. The unit gives a unique PhD program (with a large participation of graduate students from developing countries financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida), masters and undergraduate programs as well as a large number of other research and teaching activities within the area of environmental economics.

Thomas Sterner's full-length CV.

On other web sites

Research areas

  • Resource Management in Developing Countries
  • Economics of Energy Use and Climate Change
  • Economics of Fisheries & Coastal Zone Management
  • Comparative Efficiency of Economic Policy Instruments in various Sectors

Research in progress

  • Emission priving for development, 2020-06 -
  • STI Transportforskning, 2015-01 -
  • Sida EfD, 2015-01 -
  • Finansiella effekter av klimatpolitik i energisektorn, 2020-01 - 2023-12
  • Sanering av radioaktiva miljöer i Sverige, 2018-10 - 2021-12

Teaching areas

  • Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
  • Environmental Policy

Selected publications

Refunding Emission Payments: Output-Based versus Expenditure-Based Refunding
Hagem, C., Hoel, M., & Sterner, T.
Environmental and Resource Economics, 1-27, 2020.

Refunding a useful sidekick to environmental taxation?

Nowadays there is much resistance to environmental taxation (like carbon taxes). Some of this is based on a desire not to give money to the state because of practical, distritutional, pragmatic or ideological reasons. One potential solution is to earmark or refund the tax revenues. Scandinavia has some interesting schemes for industrial pollutants (NOX) that we have analyzed.

This paper systematically analyses different kinds of tax refunding to industries. Refunding in proportion to output (which Sweden has for NOx) or in proportion to Abatement investments – which Norway has.

The former makes a very high pollution tax politically feasible. The latter actually makes a really low pollution tax very effective by using refunds to subsidize abatement. In effect it becomes a combined tax and subsidy. (If you are wondering which is better --- it turns out to be a bit complex so read the paper..…)

Environmental policy instruments and corruption
Damania, R., Sterner, T. & Whittington, D.
China Economic Journal, 2020.

Funding Inclusive Green Transition through Greenhouse Gas Pricing
Sterner, Thomas, Carson, Richard T., Hafstead, Marc, Howard, Peter, Jagers, Sverker C., Köhlin, Gunnar, Parry, Ian, Rafaty, Ryan, Somanatan, E., Steckel, Jan Christoph, Whittington, Dale, Alpizar, Francisco, Ambec, Stefan, Aravena, Claudia, Bonilla, Jorge, Daniels, Reza Che, Garcia, Jorge, Harring, Niklas, Kacker, Kanishka, Kerr, Suzi, Medhin, Haileselassie, Romero, German, Khanh Nam, Pham, Johansson-Stenman, Olof, Toman, Mike, Xu, Jintao, Wang, Min
ifo DICE Report, 18:1, s. 03-08, 2020

Policy design for the Anthropocene
Sterner, Thomas, Barbier, Edward B., Bateman, Ian, van den Bijgaart, Inge, Crépin, Anne Sophie, Edenhofer, Ottmar, Fischer, Carolyn, Habla, Wolfgang, Hassler, John, Johansson-Stenman, Olof, Lange, Andreas, Polasky, Stephen, Rockström, Johan, Smith, Henrik G., Steffen, Will, Wagner, Gernot, Wilen, James E., Alpízar, Francisco, Azar, Christian, Carless, Donna, Chávez, Carlos, Coria, Jessica, Engström, Gustav, Jagers, Sverker C., Köhlin, Gunnar, Löfgren, Åsa, Pleijel, Håkan, Robinson, Amanda
Nature Sustainability, 2, s. 14-21, 2019

Policy sequencing toward decarbonization
Meckling, Jonas, Sterner, Thomas, Wagner, Gernot
Nature Energy, s. 1-5, 2017

Discounting and Relative Consumption
Johansson-Stenman, Olof, Sterner, Thomas
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 71:May, s. 19-33, 2015

Fuel Taxes and the Poor: The distributional consequences of gasoline taxation and their implications for climate policy
Sterner, Thomas