The traditional macroeconomic issues are well-known: unemployment, inflation, economic growth and the balance of payments. However, the environment, and specifically climate change, have become increasingly important objectives for the global economy. Over recent months, many countries have announced new policies and measures to tackle climate change.
The costs of not tackling climate change are well-documented, but what about the costs of actually tackling it? Why is a changing climate receiving such attention and what are the economics behind this problem? The articles below consider this important issue.
Tougher climate target unveiled BBC News (16/10/08)
Brown proposes £60 billion climate fund BBC News (26/6/09)
EU says tackling climate change will cost global economy €400 billion a year Irish Times, Frank McDonald (26/6/09)
Obama makes 11th-hour climate change push Washington AFP, Ammenaul Parisse (25/6/09)
UK to outline emission cut plans BBC News (26/6/09)
What’s new in the EU: EU examines impact of climate change on jobs The Jerusalem Post, Ari Syrquin (25/6/09)
Climate change: reducing risks and costs The Chronicle Herald, Jennifer Graham (25/6/09)
Obama to regulate ‘pollutant’ CO2 BBC News (17/4/09)
Billions face climate change risk BBC News (6/5/07)
Obama vows investment in science BBC News (27/4/09)
Japan sets ‘weak’ climate target BBC News (10/6/09)
- Why is climate change an example of market failure?
- Apart from imposing limits on emissions, what other interventionist policies could be used? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of them?
- According to the EU, the cost of tackling climate change is very high. So, why are we doing it? See if you can carry out a cost-benefit analysis!
- Why is climate change presenting a problem for insurance companies? Can it be overcome?
- Why is finance such an issue between developed and developing countries in relation to tackling climate change?
- What is the likely impact of climate changing policies on the labour market? Will we be able to adapt in the current economic crisis?
EU leaders at a Brussels summit have agreed a plan to cut emissions. This will involve the 27 EU countries cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The aim is also to try to raise renewable energy sources to 20% of total energy use. The package has become known as the 20/20/20 package, but scientists have already argued that these measures may not be sufficient to prevent serious climate change.
Fiddling with words as the world melts The Economist (18/12/08)
Climate deal is far too little too late Guardian (15/12/08)
EU leaders claim historic agreement on cutting pollution Guardian (13/12/08)
Climate change: EU leaders reach compromise deal on emissions Guardian (12/12/08)
World needs ‘climate revolution’ BBC News Online (11/12/08)
EU climate package explained BBC News Online (5/12/08)
EU leaders reach new climate deal BBC News Online (12/12/08)
- Identify two external costs that result from climate change.
- Using diagrams as appropriate, illustrate the impact of the EU climate change deal on the market for electricity.
- Discuss the extent to which the EU climate change deal will lead to an increase in the supply of renewable energy sources. How quickly are these changes in supply likely to take effect?
- Examine two other policies that national governments could implement to reduce carbon emissions.
Billions of plastic bags are used and discarded each year around the world and these cause considerable environmental damage – a form of market failure. In this podcast we consider the extent of the problem and policies that countries around the world are adopting to try to minimise this market failure. Many countries, including China, have banned single-use plastic bags completely, while others, such as Ireland, have chosen to tax them to try to limit their use.
Britain’s recycling strategy is under risk following a collapse in waste paper prices. Three quarters of UK waste paper is exported to Far Eastern buyers, but demand from this region has collapsed in recent months. The price collapse has led to a surplus of recyclable paper and some local authorities have proposed using Ministry of Defence (MoD) sites to store the waste while there is no market or use for it.
Paper price collapse blows hole in Britain’s recycling strategy Guardian (11/11/08)
Recycled waste could be stored on MoD bases Guardian (16/11/08)
- Define the terms (i) private cost and (ii) external cost.
- What are the external costs resulting from disposing of waste paper and other recyclable products in landfill sites?
- Using diagrams as appropriate, illustrate the changes that have taken place in the market for waste paper.
- Evaluate two strategies that the government could adopt to increase the price of waste paper.
- Discuss the likely success of a policy of storing waste on MoD sites to await an upturn in the recycling market..