Edgar Hertwich

About Edgar Hertwich

I am a professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and currently serve as president of the International Society for Industrial Ecology. I grew up in Braunau, Austria, studied physics at Princeton and Energy & Resources at the University of California, Berkeley. From 2003-2015, I directed the Industrial Ecology Programme of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. My research interests cover life cycle assessment, sustainable consumption and production, trade and environment, risk analysis, and climate mitigation. I am interested in understanding how activities in our society require resources and produce environmental pressures. I would like to better understand the dynamics in our development that affect these driving forces and their resulting environmental pressures, and alternative courses of action that can reduce these pressures. What is the connection between human activities on the one hand and emissions and resource use on the other hand? What are the implications of our current development path? What do we need to change, both in terms of individual actions and policy frameworks, to achieve a more sustainable development.


Publications: See full list here (in Google Scholar)

Hurra for Green Electricity!

Some economists argue that support for renewable electricity leads to more coal power. Their reasoning is curiously flawed and oversees the crucial role of technological learning. A curious discussion about climate policy has arisen in Norway now that the country has agreed with Sweden to join Sweden’s  ”green certificate” market (a.k.a. el-certificate, similar to the renewable portopholio standard) . This policy tool creates de-facto a niche-market for specific kinds of renewable energy, which are traded at [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 September 13th, 2009|Reflexions|0 Comments

Can Technology Spare the Earth?

The IPCC says that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 % by 2050 to achieve the goal of limit global warming to not more than 2°C, agreed to by the EU and the G8. Recent research indicates that the cumulative emissions in the period 2000-2050 should be not more than 1000 billion tons of CO2. In the first 7 years of this 50 year period; 234 billion tons were already emitted. [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 August 27th, 2009|Reflexions|0 Comments

What does the Carbon Footprint mean?

Many people have asked how a country’s carbon footprint compares to the territorial emissions reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)? In hindsight, it was perhaps remiss of us not to include this data in the paper. However, it was not our motivation. Focusing on whether the emissions are bigger or smaller misses a large part of the story. The main focus of the paper is on what consumption categories cause [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 August 13th, 2009|Scientific Issues|0 Comments

News Stories on Carbon Footprint of Nations

A good week has gone since the release of the website and the online version of our article. A number of news outlets picked up the story, including the venerable Neue Züricher Zeitung (Switzerland) and the tabloid VG (Norway). It was really interesting to discuss our research with numerous journalists and to see what they picked up. Here is some highlights. Consumption as key driver for carbon footprints: Basically all stories emphasize the importance of goods for personal [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 June 24th, 2009|Reflexions|0 Comments

The importance of national carbon footprint accounting

Congratulations to Edgar Hertwich, Glen Peters and the NTNU team for presenting the 'Carbon Footprint of Nations' as a politically relevant way of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, based on a sound methodology. The publication and website comes at an important time – the decisive climate policy negotiations in Copenhagen are only half a year away – and it will be a useful input to this process. For both, producers and consumers, as individuals, companies [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 June 15th, 2009|Reflexions|0 Comments

Welcome to the Carbon Footprint site!

We are excited about launching this web site. Many years of our research have gone into developing models and analyzing data on the connection of industrial production, consumption and environmental pressures. Profound insights have been gained, and an approach has matured which we think is indispensible to address climate change and resource scarcity. Now, we feel that the world really should pay attention! We want to use this website to communicate our research findings to [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 June 12th, 2009|Reflexions|0 Comments