Environment

Ric Colacito, Bridget Hoffmann, Toan Phan, 28 October 2016

Policy proposals to offset the effects of global warming would be strengthened if we knew more about the net economic benefits of climate action relative to business-as-usual. This column argues that estimates may understate the future costs of business as usual because of heterogeneous seasonal effects, and because more business sectors than previously assumed suffer a negative impact from increased summer temperatures. The cost of inaction may be equal to one-third of the growth rate of US GDP over the next 100 years.

Larry Levin, Matthew S. Lewis, Frank Wolak, 13 October 2016

A consensus that the demand for gasoline is price inelastic means that policymakers have opted to disregard price instruments when addressing gasoline consumption and climate change. This column analyses daily citywide data on gasoline prices and consumption to show that demand for gasoline is in fact substantially more elastic than previously thought. This is a major argument in favour of the effectiveness of price-based mechanisms in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Richard Tol, 27 September 2016

The UK may opt to leave the EU Emissions Trading System. This column argues that as the UK is a large importer of emission permits, this would make meeting its climate policy targets much harder and dearer, and would remove the legal standing of many permits circulating in the rest of the EU. Some non-EU countries do take part in the Emissions Trading System, and this appears to be the best option for the UK post-Brexit. If not, the UK Government will be forced into a major overhaul of its climate policy.

Achyuta Adhvaryu, Namrata Kala, Anant Nyshadham, 27 August 2016

Energy-efficient technologies are an increasingly relevant policy priority, given growing consensus on the need to tackle climate change. This column examines the productivity benefits of adopting one such technology – LED lighting – for manufacturing firms in India. It finds that improved productivity resulting from LED lighting’s lower heat emissions makes adopting such technology far less costly than previous anticipated, particularly for labour-intensive firms in hot climates. 

Roberto F. Aguilera, Marian Radetzki, 17 August 2016

After decades of oil price rises, new extraction techniques for shale and conventional deposits mean that recent dramatic price falls will be here to stay. This column argues that, even with oil at $50 a barrel, global producers will invest to catch up with US-led technological innovation and so add 40 million barrels a day to production by 2035. This will revolutionise domestic energy policymaking, environmental commitments and global geopolitics.

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