Áureo de Paula, John Lynham, Timothy Halliday, 22 June 2015

For policy to target air pollution optimally, a thorough understanding of its harms is required. However, disentangling the health effects of specific pollutants has proved challenging, as multiple chemicals tend to co-occur in industrial pollution. This column exploits volcanic emissions in Hawaii to examine the health impact of a specific pollutant – airborne particulates. Short-term exposure to particulate pollution is found to increase pulmonary-related hospitalisations and expenditures, particularly among very young children. 

Richard Layard, Gus O'Donnell, Nicholas Stern, Adair Turner, 08 June 2015

If clean energy were cheaper than dirty energy, climate change would halt. Making clean energy cheaper is a problem – like putting a man on the moon – that can be cracked if the effort is properly organised and financed. This column proposes a ten-year ‘Global Apollo Programme’ to achieve the necessary price reversal.

Davide Consoli, Giovanni Marin, David Popp, Francesco Vona, 22 May 2015

The greening of the economy brings with it changes in the demand for certain skills in the labour market. Understanding these changes has important implications for policy aiming to support sustainable industry. This column uses US data to identify key green jobs and the skills of import for them. Environmental sustainability regulations are shown to affect the demand for green skills in the labour market. Labour market policies should target labour supply, for instance through education, to avoid potential skill gaps down the line.

Peter Debaere, Amanda Kurzendoerfer, 12 May 2015

Water management is a major challenge today. To guide efficient water allocation, it is essential to understand the drivers of water use. This column sheds light on this issue using US data from the 1950s until today. The findings show that US water withdrawal has stabilised, and has even decreased in the past decades. Technological improvements have been crucial towards that end. However, the shifting demand from agriculture and manufacturing to less-water intensive sectors has been just as important.

Arik Levinson, James O'Brien, 11 March 2015

Rich countries pollute less partly because people in richer countries consume a less pollution-intensive bundle of goods. This column investigates whether this results from consumer preferences or economy-wide changes. Within a country, the environmental Engel curve is concave – meaning that richer households, while polluting more, consume a less pollution-intensive bundle. Over time, this accounts for half of the decrease in rich household pollution, with the remainder being due to price changes and environmental regulations.

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