William Nordhaus


Climate Change

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Climate Change category goes, in this tenth edition, to economist William Nordhaus of Yale University (USA), for founding the field of climate change economics by “pioneering a framework that integrates climate science, technology and economics to address the critical question: What should the world do to limit climate change?”


William Nordhaus studied at Yale University then went on to earn a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On completion of his thesis, in 1967, he joined the faculty at Yale, where he remains to this day. Currently Sterling Professor of Economics, he also holds a professorship in Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

A member of President Jimmy Carter’s Council of Economic Advisors from 1977 to 1979, he has also served on numerous committees of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including the Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems, the Panel on Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming, the Committee on National Statistics, the Committee on Data and Research on Illegal Drugs, and the Committee on the Implications for Science and Society of Abrupt Climate Change. He also chaired a panel of the National Academy of Sciences which produced a report, “Nature’s Numbers,” that recommended approaches to integrate environmental and other non-market activity into national accounts.

Co-author since 1985 of the revised editions of the classic textbook Economics, in collaboration with Nobel Prize winner Paul Samuelson, his many publications include Invention, Growth and Welfare; Is Growth Obsolete?, and The Efficient Use of Energy Resource’s. Some of his titles, like Managing the Global Commons: The Economics of Climate Change (1994) and Warming the World (2000), explored previously uncharted ground. Other well-known works are A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies (2008) and, most recently, The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World (2013).

Nordhaus is on the research staff of the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research and has been a member and senior advisor of the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity. He is also a member of the Congressional Budget Office Panel of Economic Experts and was the first Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2014-2015 he served as President of the American Economic Association.