Ottmar Georg Edenhofer (born in 8 July 1961 in Gangkofen, Lower Bavaria, Germany) is one of the world's leading experts on climate change policy, environmental and energy policy, and energy economics. Edenhofer currently holds the professorship of the Economics of Climate Change at the Technical University of Berlin. He is designated director and chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) as well as director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). From 2008 to 2015 he served as one of the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III "Mitigation of Climate Change".
Among other functions, he is a member of the OECD Advisory Council “Growth, Investment and the Low-Carbon Transition”, a member of the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, a member of the Advisory Committee of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP), and a member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). In July 2018, Professor Edenhofer was awarded the Romano-Guardini-Prize by the Katholische Akademie in Bayern.
Edenhofer completed his Diploma in Economics with honors at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He belonged the Jesuit Order from 1987 to 1994 and following his novitiate earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy at the Munich School of Philosophy. During this time he also founded an enterprise in the public health sector and lead a humanitarian aid organization in Croatia and Bosnia from 1991 to 1993. After leaving the Order, Edenhofer worked as a research assistant from 1994 to 2000 and completed his PhD in Economics summa cum laude at the Technical University of Darmstadt in 1999 under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Carlo C. Jäger,.
From 2004 to 2008 Edenhofer was a lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year.
Since 2007, Edenhofer is deputy director and chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), co-chairing Research Domain III "Sustainable Solutions", which focuses on the scientific research of the economics of atmospheric stabilization. In close cooperation with the research domain's staff, he formulated the concept of the "Global Deal" for climate protection as well as developing a concept for a transatlantic carbon market. In addition, he supervises several PhD and Diploma students at PIK. He is also in charge of the coordinating various third-party-funded research projects.
Since 2008, Edenhofer holds the professorship for the Economics of Climate Change at the Technical University of Berlin.
From 2008 to 2015 he served as a co-chair of Working Group III "Mitigation of Climate Change" of the (IPCC). He was a lead author of the Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change published by the IPCC in 2014. In 2012 he became director of the newly founded Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).
Among other engagements, Edenhofer holds the following unpaid or paid honorary positions:
- Member of the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices founded at the invitation of Ségolène Royal and Feike Sijbesma, Co-Chairs of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) High Level Assembly, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics, and Lord Nicholas Stern
- Member of the OECD Advisory Council “Growth, Investment and the Low-Carbon Transition”
- Volkswagen, Member of the Sustainability Council
- Forschungsunion, Science-Industry Cooperation Promoter Group Climate Energy, Member
- German National Academy of Science Leopoldina, Member of the Working Group "Climate, Energy & Environment"
- Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) (a joint effort of the Global Green Growth Institute, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Bank), Member of the Advisory Committee
- Forschungsforum Promoter Group Economy, Member
- Euro-CASE Energy Platform, Chairman
- German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), Member
Besides his teaching and research activities, Edenhofer actively contributes to public debates about political climate protection measures in Germany and the European Union.
Edenhofer's research explores the impact of induced technological change on mitigation costs and mitigation strategies, the value capture and distribution of land rents, and the design of instruments for climate and energy policy. He specializes in the economics of atmospheric stabilization, social cost-benefit analysis, land value tax, sustainability theory, economic growth theory, environmental economics, welfare theory, and general intertemporal equilibrium theory.
Philosophy and position on climate change
Edenhofer says that his interest in philosophy and economics was influenced by his readings of the works of Henry George, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and John Dewey. Regarding climate change he says: "Denying out and out that climate change is a problem for humanity, as some cynics do, is an unethical, unacceptable position."
Edenhofer favours cap-and-trade over a direct carbon tax as the most efficient method to reduce greenhouse emissions and encourage innovation to preserve the climate. He feels strongly that moving the global economy to a low-carbon threshold requires huge increases in the use of renewable energy across all economic sectors.
- 2007: Fellow of the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg, Germany
- 2008: Fellow of the German Association Socialpolitik, Research Committee Environmental and Resource Economics
- 2009: Fellow of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE)
- 2009: Member of the Scientific Advisory Council at the Munich Society for the Promotion of Economic Research
- 2009: Member of the Scientific Advisory Council at the EUREF-Institute in Berlin
- 2010: Member of the group "Climate, Energy & Environment" of the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina
- 2012: Member of the Advisory Committee of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP)
- 2012: Member of the Foundation Council of Munich Re
- 2013: Member of the Forschungsforum Promoter Group Economy
- 2013: Chair of the Euro-CASE Energy Platform
- 2015: Member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech)