Goran Dominioni, Dan Esty, 22 April 2022

The EU and the US are considering proposals for border carbon adjustment mechanisms to curtail the risk of carbon leakage. This column argues that these mechanisms can better mitigate climate change and more likely comply with WTO law when designed to account for effective carbon prices in exporting countries instead of focusing on explicit carbon prices alone. While there are administrative challenges to crediting effective carbon prices, existing trade accounting methods (notably from anti-dumping and countervailing duty subsidy cases) provide ample experience and know-how to overcome these difficulties.

Cecilia Bellora, Lionel Fontagné, 26 March 2022

The proposed European Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism seeks to curb carbon leakage, which undermines the EU’s ambitious goal of climate neutrality by 2050. This column explores whether the mechanism succeed in reducing carbon leakage, while at the same time restoring a level playing field for EU producers and minimising the likelihood of WTO panels or retaliation by trading partners. The authors argue that the mechanism will significantly curb European carbon leakages, but at a cost. EU member states will need at the very least to agree on how to end free allowances to be compatible with the WTO.

Söhnke Bartram, Kewei Hou, Sehoon Kim, 03 May 2021

How effective are climate change policies, and what are the important considerations to ensure they are effective? This column shows that firms respond to climate change policies with regulatory arbitrage so that localised policies aimed at mitigating climate risk can have unintended consequences. Studying the impact of the California cap-and-trade programme, it shows that firms without financial constraints do not reduce their emissions in response to the policy. In contrast, financially constrained firms shift emissions and output from California to other states. In fact, contrary to the policy objective, these firms increase their total emissions after the cap-and-trade rule.

Mattia Di Ubaldo, Steven McGuire, Vikrant Shirodkar, 03 January 2021

The adoption of environmentally friendly production methods matters to both firms and policymakers, as both are concerned with reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. This column studies the effect on emissions of environmental protection provisions in EU free trade agreements, as well as that of private ISO-14001 environmental certifications. Environmental protection provisions in EU trade agreements are associated with lower levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, while ISO-14001 certifications are associated with lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. For carbon dioxide, ISO-14001 certifications matter only for members of trade agreements with environmental protection provisions, suggesting the existence of complementarities between private and public environmental regulation.

Paul De Grauwe, 19 December 2018

Richard Tol, 17 December 2015

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has successfully negotiated a Paris Agreement. International climate policy will be shaped by the events in Paris for years to come. This column highlights three key developments.

Carlo Carraro, 07 February 2015

China and the US have recently agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This column asks what quantifiable impact the new targets will have, whether they are any better than previous approaches, and if so, whether they are enough to avoid dangerous climate change. While insufficient for keeping temperature increase below the 2°C limit, the US and China’s bilateral commitments are a step in the right direction, and form the basis for a stronger international agreement in Paris later this year.

Jean-Marie Grether, Nicole Mathys, Caspar Sauter, 31 January 2015

Spatial inequalities in territorial-based greenhouse emissions matter in terms of regulation, both at the international and subnational levels. This column decomposes these inequalities worldwide for the two major greenhouse gases over the period 1970–2008. Within-country inequalities are larger, and rising, while between-country inequalities are smaller and falling. Moreover, social tensions arising from the discrepancy between the distribution of emissions and the distribution of damages appear to be larger within than between countries, and larger for carbon dioxide than for methane.

Corrado Di Maria, Ian Lange, Edwin van der Werf, 06 January 2013

By promising to reduce fossil fuel demand in the future, some claim that climate policies will induce supply side responses today; firms will pump out emissions now before demand restrictions tighten. However, this column argues that the ‘green paradox’ is a red herring. Evidence from US coal prices suggests that, in industrialised countries, there is little danger of an increase in domestic emissions in response to imperfect climate policies.

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