Edgar Hertwich researches life-cycle assessment, sustainable production and consumption, trade and environment, plus risk analysis. He explores how activities in society produce environmental pressures, and investigates alternative courses of action to reduce those pressures. He is Professor of Industrial Ecology at Yale University.
Professor Hertwich was the lead author of the IRP’s 2009 Panel report, The Environmental Impacts of Production and Consumption: Priority Products and Materials, and leads the Working Group on the Environmental Impacts of Products and Materials. He also leads the Panel’s assessment of the environmental and resource impacts of greenhouse gas mitigation technologies.
Professor Hertwich seeks to understand the socio-economic metabolism, which describes the extraction or harvesting of resources, their transformation to useful products, their utilization for desired services and the return of material resources to nature as emissions or waste. He is a pioneer in analyzing the global picture of emissions and resource utilization through the use of multiregional input-output models, which describe the entire world economy at an intermediate level of detail. This work has demonstrated the tight relationship between CO2 emissions, biomass use and affluence.
Professor Hertwich supervises work on the adoption of technologies and life-cycle impact assessment in the marine environment. His most significant research has been the improvement of toxic impact assessment methods in life-cycle impact assessments, by introducing fate and exposure modelling plus uncertainty analysis. He has also undertaken important studies on greenhouse gas emissions embodied in international trade and the carbon footprint of nations.
He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Industrial Ecology and has co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, many which have appeared in leading journals. Hertwich earned a PhD in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley, in the USA.