Tim Besley, Avinash Dixit, 31 March 2017

Many scientists agree that the probability of a rare environmental disaster increases as the stock of greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. This column asks how much consumption current generations should be willing to sacrifice to reduce the risk of such a future catastrophe. If there were a way of immediately eliminating the risk of all future catastrophes, society should be willing to sacrifice 16% of its consumption in perpetuity to achieve this. A sacrifice of 5.8% of annual consumption could bring about a 30% reduction in emissions, in line with the reductions contemplated in agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol.

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.

Jason Furman, Ron Shadbegian, Jim Stock, 25 February 2015

The cost of delaying climate action has been studied extensively. This column discusses new findings based on a meta-analysis of published model runs. A one-decade delay in addressing climate change would lead to about a 40% increase in the net present value cost of addressing climate change. If anything, the methodology used in this analysis could understate the cost of delay. Uncertainty and the possibility of tipping points provide a motivation for more action as a form of insurance against worse outcomes.

Valentina Bosetti, Jeffrey Frankel, 24 November 2014

Many countries have announced emissions targets for 2020. To evaluate which countries are doing their fair share, this column proposes a ‘scorecard’ approach based on three principles of fairness in climate change mitigation: latecomer catch-up, progressivity, and cost. The authors find that most countries’ targets, including those of China and the US, are in line with what such a scorecard would suggest.

David Hendry, 27 October 2014

Climate change has been the main driver of mass extinctions over the last 500 million years. This column argues that current evidence provides a stark warning. Human activity is producing greenhouse gases, and as a consequence global temperatures and ocean heat content are rising. Such trends raise the risk of tipping points. Economic analysis offers a number of ideas, but a key problem is that distributions of climate variables can shift, invalidating stationarity-based analyses, and making action to avoid possible future shifts especially urgent.

Richard Tol, 25 April 2014

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report estimates lower costs of climate change and higher costs of abatement than the Stern Review. However, current UN negotiations focus on stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at even lower levels than recommended by Stern. This column argues that, given realistic estimates of the rate at which people discount the future, the UN’s target is probably too stringent. Moreover, since real-world climate policy is far from the ideal of a uniform carbon price, the costs of emission reduction are likely to be much higher than the IPCC’s estimates.

Carlo Carraro, Thomas Longden, Giacomo Marangoni, Massimo Tavoni, 27 November 2013

In recent years, European coal consumption has increased, while natural gas consumption has declined – despite Europe’s commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. This perverse scenario is partly attributable to EU policies. Subsidies to renewables and energy efficiency targets have the unfortunate side effect of lowering carbon prices, thus partially offsetting their environmental benefits. Raising the EU carbon price would be preferable to employing multiple policy instruments, since it would minimise distortions in energy markets, achieve cost efficiency, and raise fiscal revenues.

Matthew Kahn, 30 September 2011

Matthew Kahn of the University of California, Los Angeles, talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about global warming – and the incentives for individuals, cities and nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or to adapt their lives to a warmer planet. He explains how free market capitalism might drive effective climate change mitigation or adaptation. The interview was recorded at Growth Week in London in September 2011. [Also read the transcript]

Sebastian Rausch, Gilbert Metcalf , John Reilly, 10 June 2011

Many policy proposals to limit greenhouse-gas emissions revolve around efforts to tax carbon emissions. But many studies point out that such energy taxes are regressive. This column models the distributional impacts of carbon pricing on over 15,000 US households, challenging the view that the policy by itself is regressive.

Nebojsa Nakicenovic, 24 October 2008

At the Global Economic Symposium in Schleswig-Holstein in September 2008, Nebojsa Nakicenovic of the Vienna Institute of Technology and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis spoke at a session on energy versus climate change. Afterwards, he talked to Romesh Vaitilingam about the options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – improved energy efficiency; renewables; nuclear energy; and carbon capture and storage.

Karin S. Thorburn, 16 April 2008

US climate change policy relies on corporations voluntarily reducing their greenhouse gas output. But recent research shows that pledging to cut carbon is bad for business, which is why so few firms take such voluntary measures. Reducing carbon emissions will require regulation.

Carlo Carraro, Valentina Bosetti, Emanuele Massetti, Massimo Tavoni, 24 January 2008

If the world wants to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gases at 550 parts per million, massive changes are required, especially in the energy sector. This article discusses means and costs of drastically reducing carbon emissions.

Ralf Martin, 12 December 2007

A new climate change prediction market has been launched. Here are the details on motivation and participation.

Nicholas Stern, 30 November 2007

Targets and trading must be at the heart of a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to Sir Nicholas Stern delivering the Royal Economic Society’s 2007 annual public lecture today, ahead of next week’s world summit on climate change in Bali.