Environment

Johannes Bollen, 13 March 2020

While the energy transition to decarbonise the EU’s economy fully by 2050 will be felt economically in all member states, the costs of decarbonising can be substantially lowered through maximising the production of hydrogen, which in turn can be used to generate electricity. This column uses a global climate-energy economic model to compare three energy production scenarios. It finds that wind energy plus gasification of biomass, natural gas, or coal with carbon capture storage can reduce the cost of achieving Europe’s 95% emissions-reduction goal by 40%. 

Panle Jia Barwick, Shanjun Li, Liguo Lin, Eric Zou, 12 February 2020

During 2013–2014, China launched a nationwide, real-time air quality monitoring and disclosure programme which substantially expanded public access to pollution information. This column analyses the impact of the programme and finds that it triggered a cascade of changes in household behaviour, prompting people to find out more online about pollution-related topics, adjust their day-to-day consumption to avoid exposure to pollution, and exhibit a higher willingness to pay for housing in less-polluted areas. The programme’s estimated annual health benefits far outweigh the combined costs of the programme and associated pollution-avoidance behaviours.

Karl Aiginger, 20 January 2020

The new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced a ‘European Green Deal’ and the Commission has asserted Europe’s need to develop a new growth model to achieve climate neutrality. However, the Commission’s limited view of ‘productivity’ ignores the fact that raising labour productivity can raise emissions and accelerate climate change. Instead, this column argues that a welfare-oriented Green Deal needs to focus on resource and energy productivity, not raising labour productivity.

Ghazala Azmat, John Hassler, Andrea Ichino, Per Krusell, Tommaso Monacelli, Moritz Schularick, 17 January 2020

Climate change is at the top of our policy agendas. What can economics contribute to help deal with this important global challenge? With the aim of answering this question, the Managing Editors of Economic Policy are opening a call for papers for a special issue on “The Economics of Climate Change” to bring together the best ideas to inform the debate and provide high-impact policy advice.

Markus K Brunnermeier, Jean-Pierre Landau, 15 January 2020

Central banks have been called on to contribute to fighting climate change. This column presents a framework for thinking about the issue and identifies some major trade-offs and choices. It argues that climate should be a major part of risk assessments and that capital ratios could be used in a proactive way by applying favourable regimes to ‘green’ loans and investments. It also suggests that central banks may want to take several climate change-related aspects into account when designing and implementing monetary policies. However, the central bank should retain absolute discretion to interrupt any action if its first-priority objective – price stability – were to be compromised.

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