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Research Environmental Economics

The Environmental Economics Department aims to conduct innovative, high-quality research in the domain of environmental economics, and addresses critical needs from society by producing policy relevant output that contributes to sustainable development.

The department’s mission is to acquire and transfer academic knowledge and expertise on the relationship between the environment and the economy to address societal concerns and to inform environmental policy.
The main strength of the department lies in the application of high quality academic knowledge and economic expertise in interdisciplinary, policy relevant research projects. The research in the department is broadly organized according to three themes: economics of natural capital and ecosystem services, climate change economics, and economics of sustainable energy

The Environmental Economics Department has strong quantitative econometric and computational skills. Applied modelling methods include Integrated Assessment Models of climate change and the economy, Computable General Equilibrium Models, Partial Equilibrium Models which have a sectoral focus, and Agent-Based Models. Moreover, methods and insights from behavioural economics are applied across the department’s research themes, and include economic lab experiments with innovative applications like Virtual Reality technology. The department also has a long-standing tradition with applying environmental valuation methods, for example using choice experiments in surveys, and in applications of societal cost-benefit analysis to inform environmental policy making.

The applied character of the research conducted by the Environmental Economics Department implies that it is well positioned to serve societal end users, as demonstrated by projects conducted for the OECD, Dutch ministries, the EU, and environmental NGOs such as WWF. PhD candidates have been financed by external organisations, such as the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Deltares. Moreover, research projects on climate change risks regularly include end users from the financial sector, such as the Dutch Union for Insurers, Zurich Re, Achmea, and the US National Association of Insurance Commissioners. 

The Environmental Economics Department consists of around 30 scientific staff members and PhD candidates and is led by Dr Marije Schaafsma. 

More Information

  • Research themes

    Economics of natural capital and ecosystem services

    The research theme “Economics of natural capital and ecosystem services” informs policies on ecosystems and prosperity, striving for the development of actionable solutions. By providing insight into people’s preferences and their values for biodiversity, research in this area helps to design decision-support tools for environmental management, incentives for sustainable behavioural change, and new funding arrangements and business cases for nature-based solutions (NBS). This research is linked with food, water, land, coastal, marine and biodiversity systems. We have long-standing experience in the (non-)monetary valuation and assessment of values of land- and seascapes and ecosystems and analysing trade-offs.

    Our research takes a transdisciplinary approach that builds on environmental, behavioural and ecological economics, and involves multiple societal stakeholders from the start of each project, e.g. in the research co-design phase. We use discrete choice experiments, contingent valuation, deliberative monetary valuation, benefit transfer and meta-analysis. We specialise in assessing pro-social and pro-environmental preferences, spatial heterogeneity of values, and climate-proof and sustainable practices in agriculture. We also have strong expertise in lab and field experiments in contexts such as sustainable food choices, community forest management, and crowdfunding for nature. Research in this area integrate these valuation studies into hydro-economic models, land-use models, and agent-based models (ABMs), and bring different valuation studies together in societal cost-benefit analyses and multi-criteria assessments to inform sustainable policy making.

    We collaborate with a range of national and international conservation organisations, such as the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), The Wadden Academy and Greenpeace, as well as government agencies, such as the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the United Nations Environment Program, the OECD. We also engage with various communities, such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (in the Values Assessment and Business and Biodiversity Assessment), the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD), and contribute to outreach activities such as the AsiaWaterAcademy. Here is a list of the current projects for the theme Economics of natural capital and ecosystem services.

    Key staff
    Prof. Pieter van Beukering, Dr Mark Koetse, Dr Marije Schaafsma, Dr Peter Robinson and Prof. Roy Brouwer.

    Climate change economics

    The research theme “Climate change economics” improves the understanding of interactions between the physical side of climate change and the economy to guide the design of climate change mitigation and adaptation policies. Examples are studies on the economic consequences of sea level rise, extreme heat, and natural disasters, such as flooding, which are used in cost-benefit analyses of adaptation strategies, including nature-based solutions.

    Macroeconomic studies on this theme use Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) of climate change and the economy (e.g., FUND and CLIMRISK), to estimate the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) for setting carbon taxes and evaluate the economic desirability of greenhouse gas mitigation policies at the international, national, and local scale. Other sectoral applications, for example, in manufacturing, agriculture, and insurance sectors, use Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models, employing econometric approaches and Partial Equilibrium Models. Microeconomic works focus on assessing climate change impacts and adaptation responses at the firm and household levels. This research area also has a strong track record applying methods and insights from behavioural economics. Examples are surveys and economic experiments to study individual perceptions of natural disaster risks and to obtain insights into decision-making processes about protective investments, such as flood-proofing buildings and purchasing natural disaster insurance. In several projects these insights are integrated in Agent-Based Models (ABMs), which simulate the influence of human adaptation processes on climate risk.

    This research informs and proposes policy instruments that help people better prepare for disasters, such as incentives from insurance, communication strategies, and nudges. Research projects are done for various societal organisations, which at the international level include the European Union, OECD, and the United Nations, as well as national governments and policy makers at the national and local levels. The EE department has long standing collaborations with the financial sector, such as (re-)insurance companies and regulators. Here a list of the current projects for the theme Climate change economics.

    Key staff
    Prof. Wouter Botzen, Dr Veronica Lupi, Dr Miguel Poblete Cazenave, Dr Peter Robinson, Dr Marije Schaafsma, Prof. Richard Tol, Prof. Jeroen van den Bergh, Prof Michel den Elzen, Prof. Marjan Hofkes and Dr Madeline Werthschulte.

    Economics of sustainable energy

    The research theme “Economics and sustainable energy” covers the regulation of energy markets and technologies, and the design of policy instruments for the energy transition, such as carbon taxes. A relevant focus is the adoption of renewable and efficient energy technologies and behaviours by individual agents, such as households and farmers. The main aim is to understand which policies can accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable energy systems – in the Netherlands, in Europe and in the Global South.

    Applications range from macroeconomic assessments using Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models to microeconomic studies using econometric approaches and Agent-Based Models (ABMs) of energy conservation behaviour. Moreover, behavioural economic studies focus on econometric analyses of survey data or experimental data collected using choice experiments, as well as laboratory and field experiments. The latter try to reveal individual behavioural biases that may be a barrier for the transition to clean energy systems – and test strategies to overcome them, for instance using information provision and social norm nudges.

    The research in this area informs national and international societal organisations, such as the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and several European institutions. Here is a list of the current projects for the theme Economics of sustainable energy.

    Key staff
    Prof. Pieter van Beukering, Prof. Jeroen van den Bergh, Prof. Wouter Botzen, Prof. Richard Tol, Dr Sanchayan BanerjeeDr Veronica Lupi, Dr Miguel Poblete Cazenave and Dr Madeline Werthschulte.

    Circular economy and resource efficiency

    The research theme “Circular economy and resource efficiency” assesses the economic impacts and consequences of advancing circularity and related policies. The aim is to improve material efficiency and to provide tailored insights to a diverse set of stakeholders.

    At micro level, we enable both producers and consumers to assess the (economic) viability of different circular solutions and business models or select the best circular strategy. This research is complemented by analysis of cognitive and behavioural barriers that can limit circular actions, decisions, and behaviours. Building on this evidence, we design tailored policies using behavioural insights (e.g., nudge (+)). At macro level, ex ante analysis makes use of partial and general equilibrium models or econometric analysis to investigate how a future transition to a circular economy could look like. Ex post econometric analysis can assess the impact of past and ongoing circular transitions. This allows identification of economic mechanisms, sectoral impacts, or (un)desirable side effects (e.g., environmental gains, rebound effects, social injustice, etc.).

    Research in this area is pivotal for governments, the private sector and other stakeholders who aim for a more resource-efficient and circular economy to avoid waste production and secure access to materials. In this context, it acknowledges the inherent local aspect of circularity and, simultaneously, the global dimension of this problem, as the world’s different regions are interconnected via trade flows of both materials and waste. Here is a list of the current projects for the theme Circular economy and research efficiency.

    Key staff
    Dr Jan Brusselaers, Prof. Pieter van Beukering, Dr Sanchayan Banerjee, Prof. Roy Brouwer and Dr Mark Koetse.

  • Research Projects

  • List of key publications

    In 2023, our department published around 70 papers in peer-reviewed international journals.

    Here we highlight some of our key publications per research theme. You can find a full list of EE's publications here.

    Circular economy and resource efficiency
    • Banerjee, S., Galizzi, M.M., John, P., & Mourato, S. (2023). Sustainable dietary choices improved by reflection before a nudge in an online experiment. Nature Sustainability, 6(12), 1632–1642. Advance online publication.
    • Borms, L., Van Opstal, W., Brusselaers, J. & Van Passel, S. (2023). The working future: An analysis of skills needed by circular startups. Journal of Cleaner Production, 409, Article 137261. Advance online publication.
    • Buyle, M., Audenaert, A., Brusselaers, J. & Van Passel, S. (2023). Rebound effects following technological advancement? The case of a global shock in ferrochrome supply. Journal of Cleaner Production, 391, Article 136264. Advance online publication.
    • Mitra, A., Balasubramanya, S. & Brouwer, R. (2023). Can cash incentives modify groundwater pumping behaviors? Evidence from an experiment in Punjab. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 105(3), 861–887. Advance online publication.
    • van Oosterhout, L., Dijkstra, H., Borst, D., Duijndam, S., Rehdanz, K. & van Beukering, P. (2023). Triggering sustainable plastics consumption behavior: Identifying consumer profiles across Europe and designing strategies to engage them. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 36, 148–160. Advance online publication.
    Climate change economics
    • Castro-Santa, J., Drews, S. & Bergh, J.V.D. (2023). Nudging low-carbon consumption through advertising and social norms. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 102, Article 101956.
    • den Elzen, M.G.J., Dafnomilis, I., Hof, A.F., Olsson, M., Beusen, A., Botzen, W.J.W., Kuramochi, T., Nascimento, L. & Rogelj, J. (2023). The impact of policy and model uncertainties on emissions projections of the Paris Agreement pledges. Environmental Research Letters, 18(5), Article 054026.
    • Duijndam, S., Botzen, W., Hagedoorn, L., Bubeck, P., Haer, T., Pham, M. & Aerts, J. (2023). Drivers of migration intentions in coastal Vietnam in response to increased flood risk from sea-level rise. Climatic Change, 176(2), Article 12.
    • Endendijk, T., Botzen, W.J.W., de Moel, H., Aerts, J.C.J.H., Slager, K. & Kok, M. (2023). Flood Vulnerability Models and Household Flood Damage Mitigation Measures: An Econometric Analysis of Survey Data. Water Resources Research, 59(8), 1-25. Article e2022WR034192. Advance online publication.
    • Estrada, F., Mendoza, A., Murray, G., Calderón-Bustamante, O., Botzen, W., De León Escobedo, T. & Velasco, J.A. (2023). Model emulators for the assessment of regional impacts and risks of climate change: A case study of rainfed maize production in Mexico. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 11, Article 1027545.
    • Schrieks, T., Swart, J., Botzen, W. & Zhou, F. (2023). Lobbying, time preferences and emission tax policy. Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, 7(1), 1–32. Advance online publication.
    • Tesselaar, M., Botzen, W.J.W., Tiggeloven, T. & Aerts, J.C.J.H. (2023). Flood insurance is a driver of population growth in European floodplains. Nature Communications, 14(1), Article 7483.
    • Tol, R.S.J. (2023). The fiscal implications of stringent climate policy. Economic Analysis and Policy, 80, 495–504.
    • Zhou, F., Endendijk, T. & Botzen, W.J.W. (2023). A Review of the Financial Sector Impacts of Risks Associated with Climate Change. Annual Review of Resource Economics, 15, 233–256. Advance online publication.
    Economics of natural capital and ecosystem services
    • de Vries, S.P., Garcia Alvarez, G., Botzen, W.J.W., & Bockarjova, M. (2023). Valuing urban nature through life satisfaction: The consistency of GIS and survey indicators of nature. Resource and Energy Economics, 75, Article 101406.
    • Pascual, U., Balvanera, P., Anderson, C.B., ... Schaafsma, M., ... Zent, E. (2023). Diverse values of nature for sustainability. Nature, 620(7975), 813–823. Advance online publication.
    • Platts, P.J., Schaafsma, M., Turner, R.K., Burgess, N.D., Fisher, B., Mbilinyi, B.P., Munishi, P.K.T., Ricketts, T.H., Swetnam, R.D., Ahrends, A., Ashagre, B.B., Bayliss, J., Gereau, R.E., Green, J.M.H., Green, R.E., Jeha, L., Lewis, S.L., Marchant, R., Marshall, A.R., ... Balmford, A. (2023). Inequitable Gains and Losses from Conservation in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot. Environmental and Resource Economics, 86(3), 381–405. Advance online publication.
    • Robinson, P.J., van Beukering, P. & Brander, L. (2023). A global analysis of coral reef conservation preferences. Nature Sustainability, 6, 1600-1606. Advance online publication.
    • de Boer, J. & Aiking, H. (2023). Pro-environmental food practices in EU countries strongly suggest mutually reinforcing improvements in gender equality and environmental sustainability. Appetite, 180, Article 106350. Advance online publication.
    • Grammatikopoulou, I., Badura, T., Johnston, R.J., Barton, D.N., Ferrini, S., Schaafsma, M. & La Notte, A. (2023). Value transfer in ecosystem accounting applications. Journal of Environmental Management, 326, Article 116784. Advance online publication.
    • Koetse, M.J., & Bouma, J.A. (2023). Farmer heterogeneity and the greening of agriculture: The role of behavioural and financial-economic factors in explaining farming practices. In Bucciol, A., Tavoni, A. & Veronesi, M. (eds), Behavioural Economics and the Environment: A Research Companion (pp. 31–49). Routledge. Advance online publication.
    Economics of sustainable energy
    • Wierling, A., Schwanitz, V. J., Zeiss, J., Beck, C. V., Paudler, H. J. A., Koren, I. K., Kraudzun, T., Marcroft, T., Müller, L., Andreadakis, Z., Candelise, C., Dufner, S., Getabecha, M., Glaase, G., Hubert, W., Lupi, V., Majidi, S., Mohammadi, S., Nosar, N. S., ... Zoubin, N. (2023). A Europe-wide inventory of citizen-led energy action with data from 29 countries and over 10000 initiatives. Scientific Data, 10(1), Article 9.
    • Poblete-Cazenave, M., & Rao, N. D. (2023). Social and contextual determinants of heat pump adoption in the US: Implications for subsidy policy design. Energy Research and Social Science, 104, Article 103255. Advance online publication.
    • Moerkerken, A., Duijndam, S., Blasch, J., van Beukering, P., & van Well, E. (2023). Which farmers adopt solar energy? A regression analysis to explain adoption decisions over time. Renewable Energy Focus, 45, 169–178. Advance online publication.
    • He, S., & Qian, Q. K. (2023). Planning home energy retrofit in a social environment: The role of perceived descriptive and injunctive social norms. Sustainable Cities and Society, 99, Article 104954. Advance online publication.
    • Dugstad, A., Brouwer, R., Grimsrud, K., Kipperberg, G., Lindhjem, H., Navrud, S. (2023). Nature is Ours! – Psychological Ownership and Preferences for Wind Energy. Advance online publication. Energy Economics, 129, Article 107239.
  • Data and Models

    Data and models are classified according to the themes.

  • Editorships