Economics of Climate Change

Economics of Climate Change

Lake Chilwa, Malawi” by U.S. Geological Survey is marked with CC0 1.0.

During the summer of 2022, I created and taught a course entitled “The Economics of Climate Change.” In honor of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, I thought I would share the outline of the course and reading materials. 

We began by a brief overview of the physical causes and consequences of climate change, followed by discussion of several guiding questions:

  • How can economics help us to think about and analyze the causes of climate change?
  • How can economics help us to think about and analyze the consequences of climate change?
  • How can economics help us to think about and analyze the costs of climate change mitigation?
  • How can economic policies help us to reduce climate change? and
  • What are the equity considerations surrounding climate change? 

Our primary readings were a teaching module published by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, and the latest version of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report. The citations and links are below. 

  1. Harris, J., Roach, B., and A-M Codur. 2017. The Economics of Global Climate Change. Medford, MA: Global Development and Environment Institute. https://www.bu.edu/eci/files/2019/06/The_Economics_of_Global_Climate_Change.pdf 
  1. IPCC, 2022. Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGII_SummaryForPolicymakers.pdf

We also relied heavily on readings from the Economist magazine.  I have included the links below, but they are behind a paywall. Please check to see if your local library subscribes to this publication. 

Readings from The Economist Magazine:

  1. Staff, 2019. “The past, present, and future of climate change,” The Economist. September 21 [updated Jan 17 2020]. London. https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/09/21/the-past-present-and-future-of-climate-change 
  2. Staff, 2020. “Why tackling global warming is a challenge without precedent,” The Economist. April 23 [updated May 23 2022]. London. https://www.economist.com/schools-brief/2020/04/23/why-tackling-global-warming-is-a-challenge-without-precedent 
  3. Staff, 2020. “Damage from climate change will be widespread and sometimes surprising,” The Economist. May 16 [updated May 23 2022]. London. https://www.economist.com/schools-brief/2020/05/16/damage-from-climate-change-will-be-widespread-and-sometimes-surprising 
  4. Staff, 2020. “How modelling articulates the science of climate change,” The Economist. May 2 [updated May 23 2022]. London. https://www.economist.com/schools-brief/2020/05/02/how-modelling-articulates-the-science-of-climate-change 
  5. Staff, 2020. “The world urgently needs a price on carbon,” The Economist. May 23. London. https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/05/23/the-world-urgently-needs-to-expand-its-use-of-carbon-prices 
  6. Shumpeter, 2021. “What if firms were forced to pay for frying the planet?” The Economist. October 9. London. https://www.economist.com/business/2021/10/09/what-if-firms-were-forced-to-pay-for-frying-the-planet 
  7. Staff, 2020. “Climate adaptation policies are needed more than ever,” The Economist. May 30. London. https://www.economist.com/schools-brief/2020/05/30/climate-adaptation-policies-are-needed-more-than-ever 
  8. Staff, 2017. “Climate change and inequality,” The Economist. July 13. London. https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2017/07/13/climate-change-and-inequality 
  9. Staff, 2022. “Do men and women think about climate change differently?” The Economist. July 22. London. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2022/07/22/do-men-and-women-think-about-climate-change-differently 
  10. Staff, 2021. “Maine relies on its marine life, but climate change will alter what that means,” The Economist. October 23. London. https://www.economist.com/united-states/2021/10/23/maine-relies-on-its-marine-life-but-climate-change-will-alter-what-that-means 

Other readings came from McKinsey and Company, Resources for the Future, the Brookings Institute, and others:

  1. McKinsey and Company, 2007. “Reducing US greenhouse gas emissions: How much at what cost?” Executive Summary. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/sustainability/our-insights/reducing-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions.
  2. Hafstead, M., 2019. “Carbon Pricing 101,” Resources for the Future, Washington DC. https://www.rff.org/publications/explainers/carbon-pricing-101/.
  3. Hayes, K. and M. Hafstead, 2020. “Carbon Pricing 103: Effects across sectors,” https://www.rff.org/publications/explainers/carbon-pricing-103-effects-across-sectors/
  4. The Hamilton Project and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 2019. Ten Facts about the Economics of Climate Change and Climate Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Environmental-Facts_WEB.pdf
  5. Urpelainen, J. and George, E. 2021. “Reforming Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies”, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. https://www.brookings.edu/research/reforming-global-fossil-fuel-subsidies-how-the-united-states-can-restart-international-cooperation/
  6. Hu, Ellie. 2022. “The Gendered Impacts of Climate Change” [blog post]. Global Development Policy Center: Economics in Context Initiative. Boston, MA. https://www.bu.edu/eci/2022/05/17/the-gendered-impacts-of-climate-change/ 

We also listened to an eight part podcast entitled “To a Lesser Degree,” also from the Economist. The series was a runup to the COP 26 Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. You can find the entire series here: https://www.economist.com/podcasts/2021/09/25/to-a-lesser-degree-a-climate-podcast-from-the-economist. No subscription required. 

Finally, we listened to two episodes of the podcast “Resources Radio,” from the Washington, DC-based think tank Resources for the Future: 

  1. Raimi, Daniel [host]. 2020. “Which Climate Change Path are We On?” [Audio Podcast Episode]. In Resources Radio, Resources for the Future. Feb 25. https://www.resources.org/resources-radio/which-climate-path-are-we-zeke-hausfather/ 
  2. Hayes, Kristin [host]. 2019. “Carbon Dioxide Removal,” [Audio Podcast Episode]. In Resources Radio, Resources for the Future. April 2. https://www.resources.org/resources-radio/resources-radio-carbon-dioxide-removal-greg-nemet-university-wisconsin-madison/ 

Feel free to email me for more information!

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