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Faculty Spotlight

Kenneth Richards, Indiana University

Kenneth Richards, Indiana University

KENNETH RICHARDS is a professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and an Affiliated Professor at the Maurer School of Law, both at Indiana University. He received his PhD from the Wharton School and his JD from the Law School at the University of Pennsylvania. Drawing on his earlier academic training in botany, chemistry, civil engineering, and urban and regional planning, the watchword for Ken’s work is interdisciplinarity.

His time serving as an economist at the Council of Economic Advisers in the Executive Office set in motion two important lines of research. Working with colleagues at the U.S. Forest Service, he developed the first detailed economic analysis of the costs of forest carbon sequestration. Then his work on the early development of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) led him to a focus on environmental policy instrument choice.

Over the past two decades, he has been developing a framework that draws on literatures from public administration and governance theory, environmental economics, public finance, political science, and New Institutional Economics, as well as international, constitutional, and regulatory law to provide deeper insight into the breadth of policy instruments and the relation among the instruments.

Along with colleagues Krister Andersson and Tom Evans, Ken authored a series of papers (predating the advent of REDD) that demonstrated that the bottom-up, project-by-project approach of the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism would not work in the area of forest carbon, that there was an alternative top-down approach based on national inventories, and that the primary barrier to implementation of the national inventory approach is the lack of field data and models to translate remotely sensed forest data into carbon stock estimates. He also managed the project to develop the first carbon offset standard, the U.S. DOE 1605(b) Voluntary Reporting Guidelines. He was recognized by the IPCC in 2009 for “contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize of 2007.”

Ken’s current research projects focus on (1) corporate sustainability indexing; (2) an integrated model of the economic, technological, and geographical factors relevant to understanding energy policy at the state and sub-state level; and (3) a book on the instrument choice framework for Cambridge University Press.

Ken has recently served as the Musim Mas Professor of Sustainability at the National University of Singapore Business School, the James Martin Senior Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, and as a senior Fellow at the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment, also at Oxford. He is a principal in Bloomington Energy and Environmental Intelligence, LLC.

Prior to his academic career, he served the U.S. Government as an economist at the Economic Research Service, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Council of Economic Advisers. He also served as National Energy Planner for the Cook Islands while he was a volunteer in the Peace Corps.