Sterner, Thomas

Thomas Sterner is a Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. With Gunnar Köhlin, he founded the Environment for Development Initiative. Sterner’s research focuses on the design of policy instruments to deal with environmental problems. He has published more than a dozen books and well over a hundred articles in refereed journals on environmental policy with applications to energy, climate, industry, transport economics, and resource management in developing countries. Sterner is the recipient of the Myrdal Prize and past president of the EAERE. During 2015-16 he was a guest professor at the Collège de France and was appointed Chevalier (Knight) in the French Légion d’Honneur in 2020. 

Research interests

Recent research focuses on issues of acceptability of policy instruments, their distributional effects, and ways of making efficient instruments such as taxes more acceptable by refunding or using revenues constructively.
Sterner's research areas are: 

  • Environmental Economics
  • Resource Economics
  • Development Economics


Sterner has taught courses on environmental policy in many countries. His current teaching is the graduate course for Professionals in Environmental Economic Policy Instruments and a master’s course in Environmental Economic Policy Instruments, each spring at the University of Chalmers. 

Sterner has supervised 38 Ph.D. students, generally as the main supervisor. Additionally, there is a large group of students who have been supervised within his research group. In total, there have been over 70 theses defended by his research group.

Grants and consultancy

In recent years, Sterner has received grants from Kamprads Stiftelse, FORMAS, Mistra, EU, Sida, Energimyndigheten, BECC, and Länsförsäkringar for research.
For the development of teaching, he received Swedish Government funding to create the open online course Policies for Climate Action and Circular Economy, in 2022. 

Policy engagement

Sterner is a member of several boards and advisory councils including several of the main European think tanks on environment and climate. Below are some of the most recently added: 

  • Jury member of the Frontiers Planet Prize Committee 2023.
  • Member of the Scientific Committee for the Global Conference on Environmental Taxation in Paris. 2022-2023.
  • Member of the Advisory Board of Climate Econometrics in Oxford, since 2016, renewed in 2022. 
  • President of the Conseil Scientifique de la Chaire Economie du Climat, University Paris Dauphine. 2017-
  • Member of MCC Expert Advisory Board, Mercator Research Institute, Potsdam, Berlin 2017- 
  • Member of Green OAT Evaluation Council (Council on French Sovereign Green Bonds, French Government), 2017-This is the largest Green Bond in the World (currently over 30 B€), issued and managed by the French Finance Ministry at Bercy. 
  • Member of the Gothenburg Climate Council, 2022.


  • SBCA Fellow, 2023. 
  • Honorary member of the French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (FAERE), appointed in 2021. 
  • Chevalier (Knight) in the French Légion d’Honneur, appointed 2020.
  • Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, University College Dublin 2019. 
  • Received the ERE Best Paper Award at the EAERE 2021 Conference for the article: Hagem, C., Hoel, M., & Sterner, T. (2020). Refunding Emission Payments: Output-Based versus Expenditure-Based Refunding. Environmental and Resource Economics, 77, 1-27. 
  • Pro Studio et Scientia Award, University of Gothenburg, October 2019. E
  • EAERE Fellow 2019 
  • Recipient of diploma as ”Mötesambassadör” by the City of Gothenburg in 2018 (Honorary award by the City of Gothenburg). 

Personal webpage 

Personal page at EEU, University of Gothenburg.


People | 23 October 2007