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Honor: Thünen Lecture by Prof. Dr. Klaus Schmidt

In his honorary lecture, Professor Schmid argues that international cooperation on climate protections needs to be negotiated.


The Thünen Lecture is given at the invitation of a commission of the Executive Council and honors distinguished members of the Verein für Socialpolitik or other persons and their academic achievements in Economics in the German-speaking world. The topic of the presentation is determined by the lecturer.

In his honorary lecture on “The Design of Climate Change Negotiations“, Professor Schmid argues that international cooperation on climate protections needs to be negotiated. He assumes that the success of these negotiations depends on how they are designed; the negotiations of Kyoto and Paris did not achieve an effective commitment of the largest polluters to sufficiently reduce carbon emissions. Weitzman (2014) and others proposed to focus negotiations on a uniform minimum price for carbon to achieve more ambitious cooperation. Schmidt reported on two experimental studies that put this proposition to an empirical test. In a lab experiment Ockenfels & Schmidt (2019) show that negotiating a uniform common commitment (such as a carbon price) is much more successful in achieving cooperation in an asymmetric public good game than negotiating a complex common commitment (as in Kyoto) or individual commitments (as in Paris). This result holds not only when agreements are enforced, but also when they are not enforceable. In Schmidt, Hofmann & Kyriacou (2020) they cooperate with Model United Nations societies to simulate international negotiations. This novel experimental format combines some of the advantages of lab and field experiments. It confirms that negotiating a uniform carbon price yields significantly higher emissions reductions than individual commitments as in the Paris agreement.

Having accepted the invitation to give the 2020 Johann Heinrich von Thünen Lecture, Klaus Schmidt joins a distinguished roster of previous lecturers. The Thünen Lecture has been an important part of the annual meetings of the Verein für Socialpolitik since 1986.

Among Professor Schmidt’s many academic appointments in his position as Full Professor of Economics at LMU Munich, he was awarded the Cross of Merit, First Class, of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since 2019, he has been chairing the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Federal Minister for Economics and Technology and since 2016, he has been Corresponding Member of the Kuratorium of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

„We face many important economic policy challenges, in particular climate change, digitalization, international trade conflicts and profound demographic transformations“, says Schmidt. In his honorary lecture on “The Design of Climate Change Negotiations“ he makes a significant contribution to this challenging and highly topical discourse.