Monday, October 27, 2008

New NBER Environmental Economics Papers

The latest batch of NBER research papers contains a remarkably high proportion of environmental economics related papers. A mere coincidence, deliberate paper bunching or a result of having more environmental economists as NBER members?

It is interesting to see top economist, Torsten Persson working in this area.


"Uncertainty, Climate Change and the Global Economy"

NBER Working Paper No. W14426

DAVID VON BELOW, Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES)
TORSTEN PERSSON, Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES), London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) Email:

The paper illustrates how one may assess our comprehensive uncertainty about the various relations in the entire chain from human activity to climate change. Using a modified version of the RICE model of the global economy and climate, we perform Monte Carlo simulations, where full sets of parameters in the model's most important equations are drawn randomly from pre-specified distributions, and present results in the forms of fan charts and histograms. Our results suggest that under a Business-As-Usual scenario, the median increase of global mean temperature in 2105 relative to 1900 will be around 4.5 °C. The 99 percent confidence interval ranges from 3.0 °C to 6.9 °C. Uncertainty about socio-economic drivers of climate change lie behind a non-trivial part of this uncertainty about global warming.


"Carbon, Trade Policy, and Carbon Free Trade Areas"

NBER Working Paper No. W14431

YAN DONG, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)Email:
JOHN WHALLEY, University of Western Ontario - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research), Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI)Email:

This paper discusses both the potential contribution that trade policy initiatives can make towards the achievement of significant global carbon emissions reduction and the potential impacts of proposals now circulating for carbon reduction motivated geographical trade arrangements, including carbon free trade areas. We first suggest that trade policy is likely to be a relatively minor consideration in climate change containment. The dominant influence on carbon emissions globally for next several decades will be growth more so than trade and its composition, and in turn, the size of trade seemingly matters more than its composition given differences in emission intensity between tradables and nontradables. We also note that differences in emissions intensity across countries are larger than across products or sectors and so issues of country discrimination in trade policy (and violations of MFN) arises.

We next discuss both unilateral and regional carbon motivated trade policy arrangements, including three potential variants of carbon emission reduction based free trade area arrangements. One is regional trade agreements with varying types of trade preferences towards low carbon intensive products, low carbon new technologies and inputs to low carbon processes. A second is the use of joint border measures against third parties to counteract anti-competitive effects from groups of countries taking on deeper emission reduction commitments. A third is third country trade barriers along with free trade or other regional trade agreements as penalty mechanisms to pressure other countries to join emission reducing environmental agreements. We differentiate among the objectives, forms and possible impacts of each variant. We also speculate as to how the world trading system may evolve in the next few decades as trade policy potentially becomes increasingly dominated by environmental concerns. We suggest that the future evolution of the trading system will likely be with environmentally motivated arrangements acting as an overlay on prevailing trade and financial arrangements in the WTO and IMF, and eventually movement to linked global trade and environmental policy bargaining.


"Linkage of Tradable Permit Systems in International Climate Policy Architecture"

NBER Working Paper No. W14432

JUDSON L. JAFFE, Analysis Group, Inc. Email:
ROBERT N. STAVINS, Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of Government, Resources for the Future, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Email:

Cap-and-trade systems have emerged as the preferred national and regional instrument for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases throughout the industrialized world, and the Clean Development Mechanism - an international emission-reduction-credit system - has developed a substantial constituency, despite some concerns about its performance. Because linkage between tradable permit systems can reduce compliance costs and improve market liquidity, there is great interest in linking cap-and-trade systems to each other, as well as to the CDM and other credit systems. We examine the benefits and concerns associated with various types of linkages, and analyze the near-term and long-term role that linkage may play in a future international climate policy architecture. In particular, we evaluate linkage in three potential roles: as an independent bottom-up architecture, as a step in the evolution of a top-down architecture, and as an ongoing element of a larger climate policy agreement. We also assess how the policy elements of climate negotiations can facilitate or impede linkages. Our analysis throughout is both positive and normative.


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