I am starting a new interview series on this blog called Meet Top Environmental Economists, #MeetTopEnvEcon. The idea is to introduce some of the most influential economists that have significantly contributed to environmental economics. I am not going to make a difference here between those working on ecological economics, or urban environmental economics, or similar, but I will simply look at all those economists who have spent a significant part of their research agenda on using economic tools to research issues related to the environment.

From this you, the reader, should get away a couple of points: What motivated this researcher to work on this topic? What does (s)he view as the major contributions? Where should the literature go from here? The idea is to introduce these top researchers also from a more personal side, a side that one seldomly gets to know if one only reads their articles. In addition, the references accumulated here will help to develop a smaller living library that should aid researchers.

In terms of contributors there is no particular order, first come first served really. I will not necessarily follow particular rankings, like those from ideas, since for example policy-oriented researchers often have a difficult time to enter those rankings. If you are not happy with the selections, or you would like to see others ranked, let me know!

The first favourite environmental economist is Rick van der Ploeg. I got to know Rick when he taught the macroeconomics course for us MSc Economics students at the London School of Economics in early 2003. This was a really enjoyable course: while he was sticking to the textbook, at the same time his mind was racing ahead and he provided us with anecdotes about his time as a politician, about when economics matters for public finance and education, and he always helped us to see where exactly the elephant in the room was standing. Rick is someone who knows the theory by heart and has enough experience in the public sector to actually know where it matters. His recent work is mostly about optimal carbon taxes, the green paradox, and the optimal switch from non-renewable to renewable resources.

Rick van der Ploeg

Current position
: Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford

Year of birth: 1956


IDEAS profile:

Rick van der Ploeg is Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford and Research Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies (OxCarre). Formerly, he was Professor of Economics at the European University Institute, Florence and he is affiliated with the VU University of Amsterdam, and the Tinbergen Institute.

He is a research fellow in international macroeconomics at the Centre for Economic Policy Research.  He directs the public sector economics programme, and is Chair of the Scientific Council of CESifo.

He is former Chief Financial Spokesperson in the Dutch Parliament, State Secretary of Education, Science and Culture of the Netherlands and Elected Member of the Unesco World Heritage Committee, and has been on the board of various commercial and non-profit organisations. Previous academic experience includes Cambridge, LSE, Tilburg and Amsterdam.

He has published extensively on macroeconomics, public finance, political economy and resource economics, and also has an interest in the economics of culture. Publications include Foundations of Modern Macroeconomics with B.J. Heijdra (OUP, 2002), the edited Handbook of International Macroeconomics, and several other books.

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