Economist Lord Stern to Receive Top Energy Policy Prize

Today the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania announced this year’s recipient of its 2022 Carnot Prize. Lord Nicholas Stern, professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), author of the groundbreaking Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, and former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank will accept the award at a ceremony at the University of Pennsylvania this April. 

The Carnot Prize is the University’s award given to those who make distinguished contributions to energy policy and over the last seven years has become perhaps the most notable annual recognition of energy policy impact by leaders around the world and across all sectors.   

Stern is known for his urgent call to action on climate change—sustained over a period of decades. Stern’s focus on bringing the best scholarship on climate change and the energy transition to the public square is unmatched. 

The 2006 Stern Review, commissioned by the U.K. Treasury, raised the visibility of the analysis of climate change as a collective action problem. Stern’s standing as both a scholar and a highly placed advisor to some of the world’s most powerful government institutions both challenged and empowered establishment actors to speak and act on climate risk. The report declared:

“Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen. The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming… The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay.”

But owning the “standard citation” on climate policy analysis was not enough, for neither Lord Stern nor the planet’s prospects. In his 2015 book Why Are We Waiting?, Stern recalculated the risks and costs of climate change and found that they are far worse than conventional economic analysis suggests. These findings have profoundly challenged policy guidance to governments. There are hotly contested claims about objectivity in the methods used to provide such guidance. In those debates, the economist Stern gives the highest priority to science-based targets and devotes economic analysis to meeting them.

“The drive for net zero emissions will result in the biggest and most fundamental transformation in the global economy that has ever occurred during peacetime,” said Stern in the run up to COP26. “This will not be a narrow horse race between economic growth and decarbonization. The new and cleaner investment and innovation can drive sustainable, resilient, and inclusive growth.”

About the prize, Stern said: “The Carnot Prize is a great honor for which I am very grateful. It is a privilege to join the very distinguished group of past recipients. The opportunities in transforming our energy systems changed enormously for the better in the last 15 years or so. They are at the center of a new approach to growth which can carry tremendous benefits in human wellbeing across the board. And they were quite rightly at the heart of the deliberations at COP26 in November 2021 in Glasgow. I am looking forward very much to being at the University of Pennsylvania in April.”

“Nicholas Stern sounded an early alarm on the economic impacts of climate change, but even more significantly he has contributed his economic analyses to other scientific perspectives that together provide broader guidance to decision-makers toward a cost-effective transition to a sustainable energy system consistent with the challenges of climate risk. For this we celebrate him,” said Mark Alan Hughes, founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

“Lord Stern has been an essential voice on the effects of climate change and the urgent need for an energy transition,” said Fritz Steiner, dean and Paley Professor at the Weitzman School of Design, home of the Kleinman Center. “We thank him for showing us the numbers.”

Stern is the seventh recipient of the Carnot Prize, and joins a distinguished list of past winners, including:

About Nicholas Stern. Stern is the IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and co-chair of the India Observatory, both at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

He has held academic appointments in the U.K. at Oxford, Warwick and the LSE and abroad including at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France in Paris, the Indian Statistical Institute in Bangalore and Delhi, and the People’s University of China in Beijing. 

He was chief economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 1994 to 1999, and chief economist and senior vice president at the World Bank from 2000 to 2003.

He was knighted for services to economics in 2004, made a cross-bench life peer as Baron Stern of Brentford in 2007, and appointed Companion of Honour for services to economics, international relations and tackling climate change in 2017. He has published more than 15 books and 100 articles.

About the Carnot Prize. The Carnot Prize is named in memory of French scientist Sadi Carnot, the father of thermodynamics. Carnot recognized that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human development. The Carnot Prize honors those harnessing the power of energy to produce new revolutions in progress and prosperity.

About the Kleinman Center. The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design creates the conditions for policy innovation that support a just and efficient transition to sustainable energy.

About the Weitzman School. The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation. 

Media Contact: Lindsey Samahon | 215.898.5900