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What is the Economics of Climate Change?

Nicholas Stern

The science of climate change

Climate change is a serious and urgent issue. There is now an overwhelming body of scientific evidence that human activity is causing global warming, with the main sources of greenhouse gases, in order of global importance, being electricity generation, land-use changes (particularly deforestation), agriculture and transport; the fastest growing sources are transport and electricity.

 

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports the highest and best practical use of scrap tires in accordance with the waste management hierarchy, in order of preference: reduce, reuse, recycle, waste-to-energy, and disposal in an appropriate facility. Disposal of scrap tires in tire piles is not an acceptable management practice because of the risks posed by tire fires, and because tire piles can provide habitats for disease vectors, such as mosquitoes.

 

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CEMBUREAU - the European Cement Association, based in Brussels, is the representative organisation for the cement industry in Europe. Its Full Members are the
national cement industry associations and cement companies of the European Union and the European Economic Area countries plus Switzerland and Turkey. Associate Members include the national cement associations of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovak Republic and the sole cement company in Estonia.
The Association acts as spokesman for the cement sector towards the European Union institutions and other authorities, and communicates the industry’s views on all issues and policy developments likely to have an effect on the cement market in the technical, environmental, energy and promotion areas. Permanent dialogue is maintained with the European and international authorities and with other International Associations as appropriate. Serviced by a multi-national staff in Brussels, Standing Committees and issue-related Project Groups, established as required, enable CEMBUREAU to keep abreast of all developments affecting the cement industry. CEMBUREAU also plays a significant role in the world-wide promotion of cement and concrete in co-operation with member associations, and the ready-mix and precast concrete industries. The Association regularly co-hosts conferences on specific issues aimed at improving the image of concrete and promoting the use of cement and concrete products. Since its foundation in 1947, CEMBUREAU has developed into the major centre for the dissemination of technical data, statistics and general information on the cement industry world-wide. Its publications serve as the principal source of information on the cement
industry throughout the world. It is the editor of the “World Cement Directory” providing data on cement companies and works based in some 150 countries.

 

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Climate Change, Competitiveness and Trade

Aaron Cosbey and Richard Tarasofsky

A Chatham House Report

June 2007

This report considers the implications of the Kyoto Protocol on competitiveness and addresses the WTO-compatibility of measures to offset competitive losses.

 From the outset the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have had to contend with perceived tension between effective action to slow climate change and maintenance of competitiveness. This report explores the nature of the concerns over competitiveness, trying to dissect them in a meaningful way and assess the need for concern. It employs a definition of competitiveness that applies as between firms, as opposed to any general notion of the competitiveness of nations.

Two types of competitiveness concerns are identified and addressed. The first – the ‘non-Party problem’ – is that implementation may create an uneven playing field, with firms and sectors from non-Parties enjoying an unfair advantage because they are not subject to carbon constraints. The second – the ‘implementation problem’ – is that Parties may create unfair competitive advantages for domestic industry by the manner in which they implement their Kyoto commitments.

 

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A Guidebook to the Green Economy

Issue 4: A guide to international green economy initiatives

United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, UNDESA

In June 2012 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), after months of challenging negotiations, governments agreed that green economy was an important tool for sustainable development. They also agreed that the green economy needs to be inclusive and should drive economic growth, poverty eradication, employment and decent work for all, whilst maintaining the healthy functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems. Importantly, the Rio+20 outcome document also recognises that capacity building, information exchange and experience sharing will be critical for implementing green economy policies. In this context, it invites the United Nations (UN) to work with partners to provide support to developing countries and to develop toolboxes, best practices, methodologies and models, and platforms to aid green economy policy design and implementation.

Following Rio+20, the UN Division for Sustainable Development (UNDSD) began publishing a new series of guidebooks on the green economy which aim to provide useful resource guides for practitioners and other stakeholders on various emerging green economy issues. Issue 1 of A Guidebook to the Green Economy provided a guide to the history and emerging definitions of green economy and related concepts such as green growth and low-carbon development 1. It also included a concise guide to approximately 90 recent green economy publications including reports, policy papers, toolkits and national strategies.

 

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The economics of avoiding action on climate change

Eleven of the past 12 years were the warmest on record, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) are higher than at anytime over the past 650,000 years and glacier melt threatens the availability of water to 500 million people in South Asia and 250 million people in China. So reports the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Yet the world has failed to act despite such outcomes having been predicted for 20 years or more. Could part of the reason be that economists have been fiddling to produce figures recommending inaction while the planet gets set to burn?

Although economists first applied their craft to climate change in the early 1970s, “greenhouse economics” has been a minority interest until recently. Those conducting economic studies tended to believe control costs matched or outweighed the benefits of avoiding damages. This changed in October 2006 when a UK government backed and funded report by Sir Nicholas Stern, an ex-Chief economist of the World Bank, concluded international action to reduce emissions was economically justified. Economic Nobel laureates clamored to make statements of support. Does this apparent awakening of mainstream economists offer hope, a case of better late than never?

 

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Given a certain pre-existing commitment to sea-level rise due to the long thermal lags of the ocean system, several million people living in coastal areas and small islands will inevitably be displaced by the middle of the century. These climate exiles will have nowhere to go. Rather than deal with this in an ad hoc manner as the problem arises, the authors propose a mechanism by which these exiles would be given immigration benefits by countries through a formula that ties numbers of immigrants to a country’s historical greenhouse gas emissions. Such a compensatory mechanism appears to be a fair way of addressing the problems faced by climate exile.

 

 

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Controlling Climate Change is an unbiased and comprehensive overview that is free of jargon and solidly based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It looks at what we can do to solve the problem of man-made climate change, working through the often confusing potential solutions. Readers will find answers to the vital questions: What will happen if climate change is not controlled? What is the magnitude of the challenge to avoid climate change? What is the role of prevention and adaptation? What measures can we take to control climate change and what do they cost? What policies are available to make it happen?

 

 

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The European Cement Association, based in Brussels, is the representative organisation for the cement industry in Europe. Its Full Members are the national cement industry associations and cement companies of the European Union and the European Economic Area countries plus Switzerland and Turkey. Associate Members include the national cement associations of the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland and Estonia. The Association acts as spokesman for the cement sector towards the European Union institutions and other authorities, and communicates the industries views on all issues and policy developments likely to have an effect on the cement market in the technical, environmental, energy and promotion areas. Permanent dialogue is maintained with the European and international authorities and with other International Associations as appropriate. Serviced by a multi national staff in Brussels, Standing Committees and issue-related Project Groups, established as required, enable CEMBUREAU to keep abreast of all developments affecting the cement industry.

 

 

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From the outset, the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC have had to contend with perceived tension between effective action to slow climate change, and maintenance of competitiveness. Competitiveness concerns were the explicit prime motivation for the withdrawal of the US from the Kyoto Process. Competitiveness concerns have since plagued Canada, the US’s largest trading partner and the bearer of relatively difficult emissions targets. They have also figured large in the climate-related policy debates in the EU, where they effectively scuttled the EC’s 1992 proposed Directive on Carbon Tax, and have continued to dog the elaboration and implementation of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS). This paper explores the nature of the concerns over competitiveness, trying to dissect them in a meaningful way and assess the need for concern. It aims to serve as background to the discussions to take place at the experts’ workshop on Climate Change, Competitiveness and Trade, London, UK, March 30, 2005, organized by Chatham House and the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

 

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