tidbits #34

In the news / New articles / Conference and seminar annoucements / Open positions

In the news:

  • How psychology can help us solve climate change  This post is something like a summary of this very nice recent paper by Partha Dasgupta and Paul Ehrlich in Science. Basically, the argument goes that social norms, trust, the individual perceiving himself as part of a society etc can reduce one’s impact on climate change. This is a point that many prominent researchers have pushed for some while, the wonderful Elinor Ostrom, Richard Howarth, Karine Nyborg, Kjell Arne Brekke, just to name a few. But the interactions between social interactions and the economic environment is far from simple and can lead to a diversity of impacts. For example, the way technical change or environmental legislation may have a very important, even potentially negative impact on climate change. Also, a recent paper by Lorenzo Cerda Planas shows that social norms may induce traps which lead, under certain conditions, countries to stay within a bad environment trap. As always, it is not THAT simple…
  • Risk subsidies and US nuclear power gets mentioned by Sean Hecht. He argues that the US nuclear industry has a cap on the amount of disaster damage that it needs to insure, the rest of the cost would be borne by US society. His thoughts fully extend to Europe, too. In effect, the cap in the US is much higher than in most European countries since the US nuclear industry pools its risk across the country. It is clear that no insurance company would be able to cover the costs of a nuclear disaster and thus, without a cap, there would not be an insurance. Also, if there were an insurance company that would be large enough to cover the expected costs of a disaster (e.g. a conglomerate of re-insurance companies), then it has been argued that nuclear energy would become too expensive. The fact that the nuclear industry is required to at least insure their plants to a marginal extend is simply to induce some safety investments, since otherwise there would be little incentives to undertake any investments at all.
  • Nicholas Stern has a strong criticism of climate models in a recent piece in Nature, which raises similar points as Robert Pindyck. Matthew Kahn, in his usual very optimistic spirit in support of adaptation measures, argues that he does not fully believe what Nicholas Stern writes. His thoughts that migration does not necessarily lead to conflict may be somewhat weak though, especially in the light of the recent findings by Solomon Hsiang, Marshall Burke, Edward Miguel and co-authors. Also, the current experience in Europe at least shows that migration has the potential for significant conflict.
  • How the gas industry spent tens of millions of pounds lobbying UK & EU policymakers
  • Our carbon budget (to achieve less 2°C) is lower than thought

New articles:

  • Your Money or Your Life: Green Growth Policies and Welfare in 2050

    This paper proposes a simple index of economic progress that weighs in the monetary cost induced by climate change mitigation policies as well as the health benefits arising from the reduction in local air pollution. The shadow price of pollution is calculated indirectly through its impact on life expectancy. Taking into account the health benefits of mitigation policies significantly reduces their monetary cost in China and India, as well as in countries with large fossil-based energy-producing sectors (Australia, Canada and the United States.

  • Corruption and Climate Change Policies: Do the Bad Old Days Matter

    We study the effect of countries’ historical legacy with corruption on recent climate change policies and on global cooperation. Current policy outcomes build on policy choices made in previous years, and these choices were likely affected by the degree of corruption at the time. Our empirical findings using data for up to 131 countries suggest that accumulated historical experience with corruption is important for today’s policy outcomes, and appears to be more important than the current level of corruption.

Conference and seminar annoucements:

Open positions:

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