Tag Archives: distributional equity

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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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

Can There Be a Positive Prognosis for Climate Negotiations?

I’m writing this brief essay on board my flight to the USA from Europe (where I participated in a workshop at the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim, Germany).  It was an interesting event, the substance of which … 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 >

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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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Economics and Politics in California: Cap-and-Trade Allowance Allocation and Trade Exposure

In my previous essay at this blog – The Importance of Getting it Right in California – I wrote about the precedents and lessons that  California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and its greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade system will … 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 >

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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 >

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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

If the Durban Platform Opened a Window, Will India and China Close It?

In my December 12th essay – following the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which adjourned on December 11, 2011 – I offered my assessment of the Durban climate negotiations … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 Platform Opens a Window: An Unambiguous Consequence of the Durban Climate Talks

In my previous essay – following the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which adjourned on December 11, 2011 – I offered my assessment of the Durban climate negotiations, addressing … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Natural Resource Policy, Politics, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Assessing the Climate Talks — Did Durban Succeed?

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adjourned on Sunday, a day and a half after its scheduled close, and in the process once again pulled a rabbit out of … Continue reading >

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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 >

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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

Canada’s Step Away From the Kyoto Protocol Can Be a Constructive Step Forward

Canada confirmed this week that it will not take on a target under an extension of the Kyoto Protocol following the completion of the first commitment period, 2008-2012.  Given that Canada is likely to miss by a wide margin its … Continue reading >

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Misguided Objection to Progressive Policy: The EJ Lawsuit Against Implementation of California’s AB 32 Climate Policy

On May 20th, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled that the California Air Resources Board had not adequately explained its choice of a market-based mechanism —  a cap-and-trade system  — to achieve approximately 20 percent of targeted emissions … Continue reading >

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Good News from the Regulatory Front

As each day passes, the upcoming November 2012 general elections produce new stories about potential Republican candidates for President, as well as stories about President Obama’s anticipated re-election campaign.  At the same time, the 2012 elections are already affecting Congressional … Continue reading >

Posted in Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reflecting on a Century of Progress and Problems

As the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close, the problem of the commons is more important to our lives – and more central to economics – than a century ago when the first issue of the … Continue reading >

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

Pursuing Real Environmental Justice in California

California Governor Jerry Brown plans to move forward with the implementation of Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, under which California seeks to take dramatic steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.  Questions have been raised about the … Continue reading >

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What Happened (and Why): An Assessment of the Cancun Agreements

The international climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, have concluded, and despite the gloom-and-doom predictions that dominated the weeks and months leading up to Cancun, the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change … Continue reading >

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Defining Success for Climate Negotiations in Cancun

International climate negotiations will continue in Cancun, Mexico, during the first two weeks of December, 2010.  These will be the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The key challenge is … Continue reading >

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

Here We Go Again: A Closer Look at the Kerry-Lieberman Cap-and-Trade Proposal

As with the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454), passed by the House of Representatives last June, there is now some confusing commentary in the press and blogosphere about the allocation of allowances in the new Senate proposal — the American Power … Continue reading >

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Opportunities and Ironies: Climate Policy in Tokyo, Seoul, Brussels, and Washington

As I write this, I’m on board a flight from Seoul, South Korea, to San Francisco, California, on my way home to Boston, having spent the week of Harvard spring break meeting with senior government officials, academics, and leaders of … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy, Positive Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Any Hope for Meaningful U.S. Climate Policy? You be the Judge.

The current conventional wisdom ­– broadly echoed by the news media and the blogosphere – is that comprehensive, economy-wide CO2 cap-and-trade legislation is dead in the current U.S. Congress, and perhaps for the next several years. Watch out for conventional … Continue reading >

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Another Copenhagen Outcome: Serious Questions About the Best Institutional Path Forward

Whether you like it or not, for the time being the most important product of the December meeting in Copenhagen of the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the … Continue reading >

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What Hath Copenhagen Wrought? A Preliminary Assessment of the Copenhagen Accord

After years of preparation, the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commenced on December 7th, 2009, and adjourned some two weeks later on December 19th after a raucous all-night session.  … Continue reading >

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Chaos and Uncertainty in Copenhagen?

Earlier today, I was asked by the Financial Times, “who is responsible for the chaos and uncertainty” at COP-15 in Copenhagen?  I’m not sure those are the words I would have chosen to characterize the situation at the climate negotiations … Continue reading >

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

Only Private Sector Can Meet Finance Demands of Developing Countries

Things are getting hot here in Copenhagen.  It’s not the weather outside, but the debate taking place inside the Bella Center, home of the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  This afternoon, the … Continue reading >

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Defining Success for Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen

The fact that President Obama has decided to attend the United Nations climate change negotiations in Copenhagen at the end of the two-week meetings on December 18th, rather than during the previous week on his way to Oslo to receive … Continue reading >

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Approaching Copenhagen with a Portfolio of Domestic Commitments

As we approach the beginning of the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen in December, international negotiations are focused on developing a climate policy framework for the post-2012 period, … Continue reading >

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Cap-and-Trade versus the Alternatives for U.S. Climate Policy

Let’s credit Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for raising questions in the National Journal about the viability of cap-and-trade versus other approaches for the United States to employ in addressing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions linked with global climate change. Senator … Continue reading >

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Can Countries Cut Carbon Emissions Without Hurting Economic Growth?

In the September 21st issue of the Wall Street Journal, the editors pose the following question: can countries cut carbon emissions without hurting economic growth? In his introductory essay, Michael Totty frames the issues as follows: “There’s little doubt: Cutting … Continue reading >

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Three Pillars of a New Climate Pact

THE climate change summit at the United Nations on Tuesday, September 22nd,  is aimed to build momentum for the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December, where nations will continue … Continue reading >

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Cap-and-Trade: A Fly in the Ointment? Not Really

For more than two decades, environmental law and regulation was dominated by command-and-control approaches — typically either mandated pollution control technologies or inflexible discharge standards on a smokestack-by-smokestack basis.  But in the 1980s, policy makers increasingly explored market-based environmental policy … Continue reading >

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Is Benefit-Cost Analysis Helpful for Environmental Regulation?

With the locus of action on Federal climate policy moving this week from the House of Representatives to the Senate, this is a convenient moment to step back from the political fray and reflect on some fundamental questions about U.S. … Continue reading >

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The Wonderful Politics of Cap-and-Trade: A Closer Look at Waxman-Markey

The headline of this post is not meant to be ironic.   Despite all the hand-wringing in the press and the blogosphere about a political “give-away” of allowances for the cap-and-trade system in the Waxman-Markey bill voted out of committee … Continue reading >

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Straight Talk about Corporate Social Responsibility

Critical thinking about “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) is needed, because there are few topics where discussions feature greater ratios of heat to light.  With this in mind, two of my Harvard colleagues – law professor Bruce Hay and business school … Continue reading >

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Does economic analysis shortchange the future?

Decisions made today usually have impacts both now and in the future. In the environmental realm, many of the future impacts are benefits, and such future benefits — as well as costs — are typically discounted by economists in their … Continue reading >

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Moving Beyond Vintage-Differentiated Regulation

A common feature of many environmental policies in the United States is vintage-differentiated regulation (VDR), under which standards for regulated units are fixed in terms of the units’ respective dates of entry, with later vintages facing more stringent regulation.  In … Continue reading >

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Using Markets to Make Fisheries Sustainable

Around the world, over-fishing is leading to severe depletion of valuable fisheries.  This is as true in U.S. coastal waters as it is in many other parts of the world.  In New England waters, for example, after two decades of … Continue reading >

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A Tale of Two Taxes

Whether they are called “revenue enhancements” or “user charges,” fear of the political consequences of taxes restricts debate on energy and environmental policy options in Washington. In a March 7th post on “Green Jobs,” in which I argued that it … Continue reading >

Posted in Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Misconceptions About Water Pricing

Throughout the United States, water management has been approached primarily as an engineering problem, rather than an economic one. Water supply managers are reluctant to use price increases as water conservation tools, instead relying on non-price demand management techniques, such … Continue reading >

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Green Jobs

The January 12, 2009 issue of The New Yorker includes a well-written and in some ways inspiring article by Elizabeth Kolbert, profiling Van Jones, founder and president of Green for All. In the article, “Greening the Ghetto: Can a Remedy … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Economic Stimulus Policy, Environmental Policy | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

As Reservoirs Fall, Prices Should Rise

Last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency and warned of possible mandatory water rationing as the state struggled through its third consecutive year of drought. This well-intentioned response to the latest water crisis should not come … Continue reading >

Posted in Water Policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Myths of Market Prices and Efficiency

In my two previous posts I described a pair of prevalent myths regarding how economists think about the environment: “the myth of the universal market” ­– the notion that economists believe that the market solves all problems; and “the myth … Continue reading >

Posted in Environmental Economics | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Opportunity for a Defining Moment

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth President of the United States is a defining moment in American history. For most Americans and countless others around the world, this is an inspiring political transition. The question we must face, … Continue reading >

Posted in Climate Change Policy, Environmental Policy | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments