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The University of Bern has created a professorship for climate and environmental economics, which can now be expanded thanks to the involvement of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the Gebäudeversicherung Bern. The goal pursued with the creation of this professorship is to expand the skills in research and teaching in the area of empirical-experimental climate and environmental economics. The professorship position has been filled with the economist Professor Eric Strobl.
The newly created professorship for climate and environmental economics is interdisciplinary and will concentrate on the research topics of economics, climate research and the consequences of climate change on the economy and society. When combined with the University’s resources, the funding for the professorship received from the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the property-insurance company Gebäudeversicherung Bern (GVB) mean that a substantial research group can be equipped. In total, the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the Gebäudeversicherung Bern will each fund the professorship with CHF 2.33 million over the course of ten years. The professorship primarily deals with the consequences of climate change for the economy and society. This includes strategies to reduce the consequences of climate change (mitigation), as well as research on adapting to the effects caused by climate change (adaption). The professorship is part of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences and works together with the World Trade Institute (WTI) and the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR).
Strengthening research and teaching
The Executive Board of the University of Bern has chosen Eric Strobl as Full Professor for Climate and Environmental Economics, starting 1 October. The economist researches in particular extreme weather events and the role they play for the economic mechanism in developing countries. With this expertise on conducting empirical evaluations of the effects of climate on the economy, the University of Bern is strengthening the exchange taking place between university research and policy, administration and economy. The scientific findings are supposed to demonstrate different options for action that could be taken to the decision makers in society, the economy, administration and politics on a regional, national and international level, as well as provide well-founded bases for making decisions. The freedom of research and teaching is guaranteed. With the creation of this professorship, the University of Bern is also expanding the range of courses it offers in an important scientific sector, among other things through the involvement of the World Trade Institute (WTI) and the Graduate School of Climate Sciences with a specialised Master of Science and doctorate programme.
Research on the effects of climate change on society and the economy
The issue of climate change has been the subject of research at the University of Bern, but in particular, at the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, at the World Trade Institute (WTI) or the Center for Development and Environment (CDE) for decades. "Climate change is one of the most pressing problems that humanity is facing", said Rector Christian Leumann. Correspondingly, he is delighted about the joint funding of this research by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and GVB: "Thanks to its partners, the University of Bern can further intensify its excellent research work in the area of climate economics and strengthen the dialogue between research and wider public society. This plays a central role when it comes to the sustainable use of our resources."
For Andrew Holland, Managing Director of the Mercator Foundation, the living of a sustainable lifestyle is just as important an issue for the economy and politics, as it is for each single individual: "Only when we assume responsibility and live our daily lives in an environmentally aware manner will we be able to confront the increasing resource-related and environmental problems, such as climate change, that we are facing. The Mercator Foundation Switzerland supports the professorship for climate and environmental economics in order to contribute new insights in this area. This is important to ensure that pioneering decisions guaranteeing a sustainable development are taken."
The Gebäudeversicherung Bern insures buildings in the Canton of Bern against damage caused by weather-related events, which means that it is directly affected by the consequences of climate change. "In the last number of years, the frequency of cases of damage occurring in the Canton of Bern due to weather effects connected with climate change have increased by approximately 50 percent in each decade. This is changing the economy and society. So with the support of the Professorship for Climate and Environmental Economics, we therefore want to make our contribution to the scientific discourse on the topic and have this discourse take place in the public arena", said Ueli Winzenried, Chairman of the Management Board.