Category Archives: Economic Policy

The Final Stage of IPCC AR5 – Last Week’s Outcome in Copenhagen

Some of you may recall that following the Government Approval Sessions for the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of Working Group 3 (WG3) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Berlin last spring, … Continue reading >

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What Can Universities Do About Climate Change?

There has been considerable debate about whether universities – and, for that matter, foundations – should divest fossil-fuel stocks from their investment portfolios as a way to reduce the risk of global climate change.  My own institution, Harvard University, decided … Continue reading >

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The UN Climate Summit and a Key Issue for the 2015 Paris Agreement

World leaders converged at the United Nations in New York City this past week for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s much anticipated Climate Summit, a lead-up to global negotiations that will take place in Lima, Peru, in December of this year, and … Continue reading >

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Is the IPCC Government Approval Process Broken?

Over the past 5 years, I have dedicated an immense amount of time and effort to serving as the Co-Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of Chapter 13, “International Cooperation:  Agreements and Instruments,” of Working Group III (Mitigation) of the Fifth Assessment … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Will Europe Scrap its Renewables Target? That Would Be Good News for the Economy and for the Environment

The European Union is considering scrapping the use of binding renewable energy targets as part of its global climate change policy mix that will extend action from 2020 to 2030.  The Financial Times reported that this move – presumably due … Continue reading >

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The Warsaw Climate Negotiations, and Reason for Cautious Optimism

The Nineteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came to a close in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, November 23rd, after what has become the norm – several all-night sessions culminating in … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Climate Change, Public Policy, and the University

Over the past year or more, across the United States, there has been a groundswell of student activism pressing colleges and universities to divest their holdings in fossil fuel companies from their investment portfolios.  On October 3, 2013, after many … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Remembering Ronald Coase’s Contributions

On September 2nd, Ronald Coase, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Chicago Law School, Nobel laureate, and principal creator of the academic field of law and economics, passed away at the age of 102.  Numerous, lengthy obituaries have … Continue reading >

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The Importance of Getting it Right in California

Why should sub-national climate policies exist?  In the case  of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the answer flows directly from the very nature of the problem — global climate change, the ultimate global commons problem. The Standard Theory … Continue reading >

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Thinking About the Energy-Efficiency Gap

Adoption of energy-efficient technologies could reap both private and social rewards, in the form of economic, environmental, and other social benefits from reduced energy consumption. Social benefits include improvements in air quality, reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, and increased energy security. In … Continue reading >

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On the Origins of Research

In response to my last essay at this web site, “On Becoming an Environmental Economist,” several readers suggested that someday I should write about the origins of my various research initiatives over the past 25 years.  Today, I’m doing that … Continue reading >

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On Becoming an Environmental Economist

My essay this month represents a departure from my standard blog posts about a contemporary environmental policy issue.  Rather, it is of a more personal nature, and stems from the fact that the second volume of my collected papers has … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Fisheries Policy, Forest Policy, Health Policy, Natural Resource Economics, Natural Resource Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy, Water Policy, Wine Economics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Second Term of the Obama Administration

In his inaugural address on January 21st, President Obama surprised many people – including me – by the intensity and the length of his comments on global climate change.  Since then, there has been a great deal of discussion in … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Reflections from Cambridge on the Climate Talks in Doha

Ever since I returned – some two weeks ago – from Doha, Qatar, the site of the Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), I have planned to offer some commentary … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

While International Climate Negotiations Continue, the World’s Ninth Largest Economy Takes an Important Step Forward

A little more than two weeks ago, while some 195 nations prepared to meet in Doha, Qatar, for the Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in an ongoing effort to … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cap-and-Trade, Carbon Taxes, and My Neighbor’s Lovely Lawn

The recent demise of serious political consideration of an economy-wide U.S. CO2 cap-and-trade system and the even more recent resurgence in interest among policy wonks in a U.S. carbon tax should prompt reflection on where we’ve been, where we are, … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Forest Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Two Notable Events Prompt Examination of an Important Property of Cap-and-Trade

In December of 2010, a group of economists and legal scholars gathered at the University of Chicago to celebrate two notable events. One was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Ronald Coase’s “The Problem of Social Cost” (Coase 1960). … Continue reading >

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Can Market Forces Really be Employed to Address Climate Change?

Debate continues in the United States, Europe, and throughout the world about whether the forces of the marketplace can be harnessed in the interest of environmental protection, in particular, to address the threat of global climate change.  In an essay … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Low Prices a Problem? Making Sense of Misleading Talk about Cap-and-Trade in Europe and the USA

Some press accounts and various advocates have labeled the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as near “the brink of failure” because of the recent trend of very low auction prices.  Likewise, commentators have recently characterized the European Union Emission Trading … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation

In 2009, the U.S. Congress considered but ultimately failed to enact legislation aimed at limiting U.S. greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.  The bill under consideration at that time, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, was the last in a … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Economics of the Environment

The Sixth Edition of Economics of the Environment: Selected Readings has just been published by W. W. Norton & Company of New York and London.  Through five previous editions, Economics of the Environment has served as a valuable supplement to … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Fisheries Policy, Forest Policy, Natural Resource Economics, Natural Resource Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy, Water Policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Promise and Problems of Pricing Carbon

Friday, October 21st was a significant day for climate change policy worldwide and for the use of market-based approaches to environmental protection, but it went largely unnoticed across the country and around the world, outside, that is, of the State … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander: Rahm’s Doctrine and Mercutio’s Complaint

In a January 2009 article – “The Big Fix” – in the New York Times Magazine, David Leonhardt introduced a frequently-employed political strategy into popular political culture by identifying it with the new President’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel: Two … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments