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Bob Ayres at 90: Key Insights on Energy in the Economy


Groundbreaking observations from a formidable figure in the field of industrial ecology on the fundamental role energy and materials play in the economy. With the climate disaster upon us, many are revisiting the seminal work of a pioneer in the field of sustainability, INSEAD Technology Management and Economics Professor Robert (“Bob”) Ayres .

Ayres is considered one of the fathers of industrial ecology – the study of the flows of materials and energy in industrial and consumer activities. His noteworthy contributions over the past half-century have linked economics and the physical sciences to shine a light on the fundamental role energy plays in our economies .

On 29 June, INSEAD celebrated Ayres’s 90th birthday by hosting a conference in recognition of his life’s work. Among the attendees were several of the 15 renowned academics who have supported Ayres’s nomination for a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Ayres’s extensive research underlines the importance of energy as a major driver for the economy. Since the 1960s he has ceaselessly warned that standard economic models misrepresent and underestimate the role of energy in the economy and its growth, and on associated environmental and climate impacts.

His work demonstrates that our economic and political systems have paid […]

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