Thierry Brechet was a Professor of Environmental Economics at Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium, held the Chaire Lhoist Berghmans « Entreprise, Économie, Environnement », and was a member of the research center Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE). He was born in Louviers, Normandy on May 24, 1965, and died in Brussels on July 20, 2021.
This in memoriam comes much too late, and for that I have to apologize. There are some things that one procrastinates for no apparent reason. Thierry was my co-supervisor (together with Claude d’Aspremont) on my PhD thesis when I was in CORE between 2003-2007. When Claude d’Aspremont accepted to be my supervisor, he suggested me to find a co-supervisor who is a specialist in environmental economics. Thierry was immediately willing to jointly supervise my PhD thesis, and he also provided generous financial support without teaching responsabilities.
Thierry gave me all the freedom I wanted during my PhD. I could work on any topic, with any researcher, aligned with environmental economics or any other topic. This was a perfect fit for my very wide research interests. However, when I was stuck, or in need of some guidance, then his door was always open. He had a very good intuition and a surprisingly wide knowledge. Among his many research agendas, he worked on pollution dynamics, emission permits, altruism and green preferences, voting on the environment, international environmental agreements and coalition formation, cap and trade and the Clean Development Mechanism, and Best Available Technology. Only profound researchers with wide interests can work on such a varied research agenda.
Thierry was a quiet, very kind person. He was not someone who pushed himself in the limelight or who would argue loudly. I never saw him raise his voice or being visibly angry. He argued his point quietly and calmly. He always had this subtle smile.
Despite not attending very many conferences, he was extremely well connected and accepted. It was mostly due to Thierry that, during my time at CORE, we had this vivid interaction with French, Belgian, Dutch and Russian research groups. He connected everyone, he was the node in the network that held the groups together. We had many international workshops, and it was mostly thanks to Thierry that this was made possible. I believe that during these years, he managed to create one of the very few strong, international groups of environmental economists, many of whom I am still in close contact with, having also established friendships that endure. For this I am very grateful to Thierry.
The booklet to which I link here is a short Hommage to Thierry, containing some insights into his contributions and research agendas. I am grateful to his co-authors and friends Henry Tulkens, Kyrill Borissov, Johan Eyckmans, Stephane Lambrecht, Pierre M. Picard, Tsvetornir Tsachev and Vladimir Veliov for having written this.
I will quote from the obitary of Thierry Brechet because I can’t find better words:
It can be said that the intellectual profile of Thierry Bréchet is characterized in two ways: an eclectic mind, and care for the public interest. Eclectic mind, in view of the variety of subject matters for which he showed interest and contributed effectively, methodologically as well as substantially. Care for the public interest, an attitude that appears in the conclusions of most of his papers. More precisely, such care takes each time the form of searching for and identifying sources of cooperation. In this perspective, he views the environmental economics discipline as a tool for serving Society at large. This is in the spirit of the great French line of thought called “le calcul économique public”.
With the creation of the Chaire Lhoist Berghmans, Louvain benefitted at CORE from a powerful teaching and research instrument in environmental economics. Thierry Bréchet has implemented in both the best that this instrument could help to provide. In so doing, he excellently responded to the exceptional generosity of those who made possible his coming to the University, and he contributed substantially to the progress of knowledge and ideas in the field that was his.
“ Thierry, …, a serious loss for Louvain and the profession more broadly. “
Taken from a message dated August 5, 2021 by Professor Henry D. Jacoby, M.I.T. Sloan School of Management and Co-Director of the M.I.T. Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.