Simon Dietz, Antony Millner, Geoffrey Heal, 01 September 2010

The answers to “How much should people sacrifice today for the benefit of those living several decades from now?” vary widely. This column suggests that people’s distaste for uncertainty – ambiguity aversion – favours immediate, rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Matthew Kahn, Matthew Kotchen, 21 August 2010

Is concern for the environment a luxury good? This column presents data from Google searches for the words “unemployment” and “global warming” by US users. It argues that recessions increase concerns about unemployment at the expense of people’s interest in climate change – in some cases leading them to deny its existence.

Richard Tol, Dritan Osmany, 23 June 2010

In 1994, Scott Barrett predicted that international environmental agreements had either many signatories who promise to do very little, or a few signatories who promise to do a lot. This column tests this suggestion by considering the role of other coalitions. One result is that, to solve global problems, the UN forum should hold negotiations with the largest emitters only.

Christoph Böhringer, Andreas Lange, Thomas Rutherford, 06 May 2010

Will unilateral emissions cap-and-trade schemes result in carbon leakage and provide a cover for protectionist policies? This column argues that these risks are overstated. Moreover, large open economies such as the EU or the US cannot substantially reduce pollution costs through competing on emission-prices and a simple rule of uniform pricing is close to optimal.

Benjamin Olken , Benjamin Jones, 16 April 2010

What are the likely economic effects of climate change? This column examines the impact of changes in climate on detailed export data. If a poor country is one degree Celsius warmer in a given year, its exports are lower, by as much as 5.7%. While there is no effect on rich countries’ exports, their consumers will still suffer from reduced imports at higher prices.

Robert Stavins, Robert Hahn, 13 April 2010

Are cap-and-trade schemes working? This column presents a summary of eight existing schemes arguing that half meet the independence property whereby the initial allocation of property rights does not affect the environmental or social outcome and the scheme is cost-effective. This success is a contrast with other policy proposals where political bargaining reduces the effectiveness and drives up cost.

Stuart Macdonald, 04 April 2010

Recent allegations that scientists at the Climate Research Unit have hidden and manipulated data has caused a media storm. This column argues that the practices alleged in “climategate” may be more common in academia than we think.

Rahel Aichele, Gabriel Felbermayr, 04 February 2010

Production-based CO2 emission targets can give rise to carbon leakage, as firms relocate to countries without carbon policies. This column shows that Kyoto countries’ embodied CO2 imports have been increasing by about 50% since the Protocol was signed. Climate policies may have lead to additional carbon imports without sizeable domestic reductions. Consumption-based targets should therefore play a more prominent role in climate policies.

Richard Tol, 23 January 2010

Most feel the Copenhagen summit on climate change failed. This column argues for a “plan B” – to go back to Kyoto. The Kyoto Protocol has the tools needed for international policy. Future negotiations should focus on refining existing agreements instead of trying to impress voters at home.

Massimo Tavoni, Richard Tol, 19 December 2009

A review of the estimates of climate policy costs produces biased estimates for the more ambitious objectives – such as those compatible with the 2°C of the EU and the G8 – since only the most optimistic results are reported for such targets. This column shows that unbiased estimates predict highly variable costs for the most difficult scenarios.

John Bluedorn, Akos Valentinyi, Michael Vlassopoulos, 15 December 2009

Hot countries tend to be poorer. This column uses the cross-century, cross-country variation in climatic temperatures to estimate the effects of historic temperature upon current incomes. The negative relationship between current temperature and income appears due to temperature variations in the 18th and 19th centuries. That suggests that the consequences of climate change may be felt for a very long time.

Nancy Birdsall, Arvind Subramanian, Dan Hammer, 14 December 2009

Over a billion people live without basic electricity. This column calculates the emissions required to make basic energy services available to all and to grant developing countries’ citizens future access to energy services equal to those enjoyed by rich countries’ citizens at comparable stages of development. These calculations imply some very stark, very different implications for burden sharing. Moreover, they mean that meeting aggregate global emissions targets without sacrificing developing countries basic energy needs will require revolutionary improvements in the technology.

Reinhilde Veugelers, Philippe Aghion, David Hemous, 09 December 2009

Mitigating climate change while maintaining economic growth will require a wide portfolio of technologies. This column says too little has been done to turn on the “green innovation machine”. It says governments in developed economies should price carbon, subsidise research, and facilitate technology transfer to developing countries.

Daniel Gros, 09 December 2009

The costs and benefits of carbon tariffs have been extensively discussed in terms of competitiveness and carbon leakage. This column says global welfare should be the focus. EU tariffs against developing country exports would increase global welfare and the proceeds from the tariff could help poorer exporting countries reduce the carbon intensity of their economies.

Carlo Carraro, Valentina Bosetti, Massimo Tavoni, Thomas Rutherford, Richard Richels, Geoffrey Blanford, 07 December 2009

China and other key developing countries must participate for any global carbon deal to succeed, but they make a strong case for a free pass. What can be done? This column says that they could commit now to accept pre-specified future emission reduction targets in order to effectively address these concerns.

Daniel Gros, 05 December 2009

The purpose of a cap-and-trade system is to help in the fight against global climate change. This column warns that a unilateral approach could increase global emissions by shifting production to more carbon-intensive methods abroad. Acting alone, the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme may be doing more harm than good.

Richard Tol, Thomas Rutherford, Christoph Böhringer, 04 December 2009

The EU is committed to limiting the rise in global average temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels and aims to achieve this through a range of policy instruments. This column warns that climate policy need not cost a lot, but imperfect implementation could cause hundreds of billions of euros’ worth of unnecessary welfare losses.

David Popp, 26 November 2009

How will proposed increases in energy R&D funding affect other types of R&D spending? This column provides evidence that should dampen concerns about crowding out – increased R&D in response to policies designed to enhance clean-energy innovation most likely comes at the expense of R&D in dirty-energy technologies.

Richard Tol, 23 November 2009

Climate change will have widespread negative effects of uncertain magnitude. But this column argues that climate change is not humanity’s biggest challenge and needs to be solved without impeding economic development. It calls for a measured policy of greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Jean Tirole, 16 November 2009

The Copenhagen Summit could be crucial for the future of climate change. This column says negotiators should aim to agree on a global emissions target for 2050, the rapid deployment of a satellite system to measure country emissions, a worldwide cap-and-trade system, governance providing incentives to join the agreement, and a subsidiarity principle with permits allocated domestically by the countries themselves. The negotiation for 2015 could then focus on the worldwide allocation of free permits.

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