Jul 302014
 
 July 30, 2014  Posted by at 11:55 am Uncategorized No Responses »

By Frank Ackerman. This is an excerpt from a more detailed commentary, available here.

Richard Tol’s 2013 article, “Targets for global climate policy: An overview,” has been taken by some as a definitive summary of what economics has to say about climate change.[1] It became a central building block of Chapter 10 of the recent  IPCC Working Group 2 report (Fifth Assessment Report, 2014), with some of its numbers appearing in the Working Group 2 Summary for Policymakers.[2]

After extensive analysis of multiple results from a number of authors, Tol reaches strong and surprising conclusions:

  • climate change will be a net benefit to the world economy until about 2.25°C of warming has occurred
  • the optimal carbon tax is a mere $25/tC (or $7/tCO2)
  • the economically “efficient” climate scenario is likely to lead to atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases of more than 625 ppm CO2-equivalent by the end of this century; lower targets might have ruinously high costs

Despite, in the end, almost acknowledging the peculiarity of these conclusions, Tol continues to claim that no compelling argument to the contrary has been made: “A convincing alternative to the intuitively incorrect conclusion that continued warming is optimum, is still elusive.”

Tol’s conclusions in this article do not follow logically from his data and analysis. Though claiming an authoritative and objective stance, he offers, in fact, a controversial reading of climate economics. Continue reading »

Jul 102014
 
 July 10, 2014  Posted by at 5:48 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

By Peter Dorman, originally published on Econospeak

This post begins a new series on policies to combat climate change, with an emphasis on clearing away the misconceptions that have grown up around the subject and now practically strangle it.  While it would take a much bigger effort—a book really—to develop and document all the ideas to come, I’ll do what I can with a series of short, bite-size mini-essays, hopefully one per day.  Given the format, they will sidestep most of the scholarly detail to make their case in the simplest, most direct possible way.  I’d love to do a longer-form version of this series: maybe later.
Continue reading »

Jun 102014
 
 June 10, 2014  Posted by at 4:33 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

Originally published by McClatchy and Tribune Newspapers by Kristen Sheeran

The steady accumulation of recent landmark climate reports is drawing a new form of pushback: not denial, but delay. In a world where denial has no scientific basis, delay provides a fig leaf of legitimacy. But actions speak louder than words and by this metric, delay and denial are indistinguishable.

The latest assessment, the Third National Climate Assessment, raises an obvious question: with so much evidence, why has there been no action? In my home state of Oregon, warming is projected to threaten our iconic forests and the industries they support, and reduce fresh water available for agriculture and industry through declining snow pack. Sea level rise and inundation pose threats to homes and business throughout the Northwest, where ocean acidification (another sad consequence of climate change) is already imperiling our fishing industries. You’d think people would be convinced, but some still find creative ways to rationalize their inertia. Continue reading »

May 192014
 

By Kristen Sheeran in regards to E3 Network’s Future Economy Initiative:

Meet the new economy; it’s not the same as the old one. It’s true that communities throughout the United States are still affected by the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis: foreclosures, unemployment and high inequality are just three of the symptoms. But there’s also something else afoot: an array of innovations taking place nationwide with the potential to change economic life as we know it. The E3 Network is proud to announce the Future Economies Initiative, devoted to carefully documenting, describing and analyzing these innovations around a common framework and set of research questions. Continue reading »

May 182014
 
 May 18, 2014  Posted by at 4:23 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

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The stunning success of the fossil fuel divestment movement has caught many of us off-guard. Almost daily, new universities and foundations are committing to redirecting their endowments from companies that are destroying the planet into ones that are not. Now, on the heels of their successful campaigns, activists are clamoring for guidance on what types of investments they should advocate for. They know that their victories will be ashes in their mouths if their universities simply divest from Exxon and into a “green” Coca-Cola.

Emulating the anti-apartheid Sullivan Principles, there are efforts under way to certify investments as fossil-free. But a “moral screen” that simply rules out fossil fuel companies and perhaps a few other morally questionable investments is a necessary, but not sufficient, step. Continue reading »

Mar 202014
 

By Jim Boyce, originally posted at Triple Crisis.

What’s rent got to do with climate change? More than you might think.

Rent isn’t just the monthly check that tenants write to landlords. Economists use the term “rent seeking” to mean “using political and economic power to get a larger share of the national pie, rather than to grow the national pie,” in the words of Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who maintains that such dysfunctional activity has metastasized in the United States alongside deepening inequality.

When rent inspires investment in useful things like housing, it’s productive. The economic pie grows, and the people who pay rent get something in return. When rent leads to investment in unproductive activities, like lobbying to capture wealth without creating it, it’s parasitic. Those who pay get nothing in return. Continue reading »

Feb 272014
 

What would it take to create a truly resilient solution to climate change? Our Director, E3 Economist Kristen Sheeran discusses the long standing implications of global climate change on Al Jazeera.

Ecotrust and E3 network’s Kristen Sheeran Talks Climate Change and Resilience with Al Jazeera from Ecotrust on Vimeo.

Feb 252014
 

By Robin Hahnel.

On November third James Hansen signed an open letter addressed to environmental organizations urging them to demonstrate “real concern about risks from climate damage by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy.”

Like Hancoolingtowersen and some notable long-time environmentalists who have recently come out in support of nukes, I am desperate. I am desperate because, like them, I know we we have very little time left to pull off the greatest technological “re-boot” in human history, turning global fossil-fuel-istan into global renew-conserve-istan before it is too late. That is why I recently sent my own open letter to those in the climate justice movement who argue that green capitalism is an oxymoron and climate change can only be solved by economic system change. In my view those who argue that greener capitalism is a false hope and not worth pursuing have no sense of time. They have no sense of how fast irreversible climate change is coming compared to how fast we can marshal support for economic system change. However, I find it sad that people like Hansen are caving on nukes when we do not need dangerous or new technologies to solve the problem. Continue reading »

Jan 302014
 

By Brendan Smith, Kristen Sheeran, and May Boeve

In the coming months, President Obama will decide whether to approve the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport crude tar-sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. We know that the pipeline would greatly aggravate climate change, allowing massive amounts of the world’s dirtiest oil to be extracted and later burned.

The payoff, say supporters such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a job boom in construction industries, which are currently suffering from high unemployment. Earlier this month, Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue called on the president “to put American jobs before special interest politics.”

If you believe headline-grabbing challenges such as Donohue’s, the president is painted into a corner on the KXL pipeline — trapped by a stagnant economy and an ailing environment.

Continue reading »