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We review 1982–1984 articles identifying Superfund sites in three national newspapers. Articles almost never identify the race of nearby residents. Based on sites receiving disproportionate coverage, readers might conclude that Superfund generally affected white, working-class families, but results do not support this narrative. In a pooled sample, neither race nor income predicts the number of times a site gets mentioned. When the sample is partitioned by newspaper or by each newspaper's coverage of nearby sites, a positive relationship emerges between the proportion of Hispanic or nonwhite residents and the number of articles about a site. We discuss this apparent contradiction.
We develop a model of optimal land allocation in a developing economy that features three possible land uses: agriculture, primary and secondary forests. The distinction between those forest types reflects their different contributions in terms of public goods. In our model, reforestation is costly because it undermines land title security. Using the forest transition concept, we study long-term land-use change and explain important features of cumulative deforestation across countries. Our results shed light on the speed at which net deforestation ends, on the effect of tenure costs in this process, and on composition in steady state. We also present a policy analysis that emphasizes the critical role of institutional reforms addressing the costs of both deforestation and tenure in order to promote a transition. We find that focusing only on net forest losses can be misleading since late transitions may yield, upon given conditions, a higher level of environmental benefits.
This paper studies the effects of drought shocks in a vulnerable environment – the Brazilian Semi-Arid. We analyze the impact of drought shocks, measured as deviations from long-run historical averages, on agricultural outcomes in a region that suffers recurrently from drought. After controlling for municipality and year fixed effects, we use weather shocks to exactly identify outcomes. Our benchmark results show substantial effects on the loss of crop area and on the value of agricultural output, as well as on crop yields. As we investigate distributional effects, our results show that crops related to familiar agriculture suffer more from drought shocks. We follow our investigation by testing heterogeneity effects and show that adequate water provision and maintenance of forest cover help in reducing the impact of drought shocks.
The present article describes the main insights deriving from the papers collected in this special issue which jointly provide a ‘room with a view’ on some of the most relevant issues in climate policy such as: the role of uncertainty, the distributional implications of climate change, the drivers and applications of decarbonizing innovation, the role of emissions trading and its interactions with companion policies. While looking at different issues and from different angles, all papers share a similar attention to policy aspects and implications, especially in developing countries. This is particularly important to evaluate whether and to what extent the climate policies adopted thus far in developed countries can be replicated in emerging economies.
The concern for inequality, growth and development is undoubtedly crucial in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, most studies either rely on the nation-state estimates of carbon emissions to propose a uniform nation-wide growth (or degrowth) strategy, or they tailor the method to assess the inequality of one country at a time, making a cross-country cross-income comparison difficult. To fill this analytical gap, we synthesize the existing methods of emission calculations and calculate the level of carbon emissions associated with given income deciles of household consumption in five countries, namely China, Germany, India, the UK and USA. We find that the within-country inequality varies among countries, with the ratio between the top and bottom income deciles ranging from three to nine at the household level. We also find that the carbon emissions of the top income group in urban China is almost comparable to that of their peer group in the US, UK and Germany. Based on these results, we discuss the use of the remaining global carbon budget in the context of development and inequality.
Three broad categories of transformative changes have been recommended in The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review (henceforth Review): (i) The need to address the imbalance between our demands on Nature and its supply. (ii) The need to change our measures of economic success. (iii) The need for institutional change. However, what the private citizen would like to find in the Review differs from what someone in a government department or an international agency or a private company seeks. These notes have been prompted by the many virtual meetings I have had since the Review’s launch and they further explore aspects of the Review’s recommendations.
Many Mediterranean-type climates around the world will face increased risks of wildfires as a consequence of climate change. In this study we consider the case of Portugal and estimate the impact of the increasing risk of forest fires on tourism. Using data for 278 municipalities for the 2000–2016 period, we find a considerable negative impact of burned areas on the number of tourist arrivals, both domestic and inbound. We go beyond the traditional impact analysis and provide predictions for 2030 and 2050. The estimated annual costs to the Portuguese economy due to the impact of burned areas in 2030 range between €17.03 and 24.18 million for domestic tourist arrivals and between €18.26 and 38.08 million for inbound ones. In 2050, those costs will increase at least fourfold. These findings underscore the importance of taking the forest fire risks into account when planning local investments.
This paper analyses the role that companion policies have had in the reduction of emissions regulated by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and the related policy interactions, with a view to identifying relevant insights for China's forthcoming Emissions Trading System (ETS). The investigation rests on: (a) the observation of the EU's and China's ETSs and policy mixes; (b) economic theory concerning companion policies and ETS design; and (c) empirical ex-post evidence from the EU ETS. Three main conclusions emerge from the analysis. First, China's ETS, while not imposing a fixed cap on emissions, will not be immune to waterbed effects of companion policies. Second, the European experience stresses the importance of making explicit the objectives pursued by companion policies, and of balancing policies for innovation and policies for adoption of low-carbon technologies. Third, in the presence of a major market surplus, only permanent adjustments to allowance supply can be effective in raising prices.
This paper sets out to explore to what extent integrating employment effects, equity, and risk aversion within cost–benefit analysis (CBA) affect the economic appraisal of a climate change adaptation project designed to protect against flood risk in a region of Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain). Four CBAs are conducted: (i) a standard CBA; (ii) a standard CBA considering equity; (iii) a standard CBA considering equity and employment; and (iv) a standard CBA considering equity, employment and risk aversion. All CBAs are conducted using a time frame of 2014–2080 and considering a 100-year return period under a middle of the road emission scenario (RCP4.5). A sensitivity analysis is also undertaken. Results suggest that the economic efficiency of the adaptation investment is contingent on what types of considerations are included within CBA. Integrating elements of employment, equity and risk aversion can strengthen or weaken the case for action (leading to higher or lower net-present values) and (depending on the discount rate chosen) may even be the deciding factor for determining whether a particular action should be carried out or not (whether the net-present value is positive or negative).
We analyse the relationship between individuals' subjective wellbeing (SWB) and measures of their country's sustainability. SWB data are sourced from the World Values Survey; sustainability is measured by ecological footprint (EF) and by components of the World Bank's adjusted net savings (ANS) series. ANS, a measure of weak sustainability, represents changes in a country's capital stock including financial, physical, human and natural capital. We show that an increase in strong sustainability, measured by EF and by ANS's natural capital component, is associated with reductions in SWB over the next decade followed by a rebound in SWB over the subsequent decade. We show also that the perfect substitutability assumptions on which ANS is calculated do not hold. Our findings highlight an important political challenge: governments that run sustainable policies may decrease the near-term wellbeing of citizens. This can reduce government's short-term popularity even though the improved sustainability may raise future wellbeing.
From any state of economic and environmental assets, the maximin value defines the highest level of utility that can be sustained forever. Along any development path, the maximin value evolves over time according to investment decisions. If the current level of utility is lower than this value, there is room for growth of both the utility level and the maximin value. For any resource allocation mechanism (ram) and economic dynamics, growth is limited by the long-run level of the maximin value, which is an endogenous dynamic sustainability constraint. If utility reaches this limit, sustainability imposes growth to stop, and the adoption of maximin decisions instead of the current ram. We illustrate this pattern in two canonical models, the simple fishery and a two-sector economy with a nonrenewable resource. We discuss what our results imply for the assessment of sustainability in the short and the long run in non-optimal economies.
Low and highly variable prices plague the coffee market, generating concerns that coffee farmers producing in shade systems under natural forests, as in biodiversity hotspot Oaxaca, Mexico, will abandon production and contribute to deforestation and reduced ecosystem services. Using stakeholder information, we build a setting-informed model to analyze farmers' decisions to abandon shade-grown coffee production and their reactions to policy to reduce abandonment. Exploring price premiums for bird-friendly certified coffee, payments for ecosystem services, and price floors as policies, we find that once a farmer is on the path toward abandonment, it is difficult to reverse. However, implementing policies early that are low cost to farmers – price floors and no-cost certification programs – can stem abandonment. Considering the abandonment that policy avoids per dollar spent, price floors are the most cost-effective policy, yet governments prefer certification programs that push costs onto international coffee consumers who pay the price premium.
This special issue contains a selection of six articles in the field of environmental and resource economics, which were presented in INFER workshops and supported events over the last two years. The topics include the effects of income inequality and freedom of the press on environmental stringency; the trade-environment nexus in China; the behavior of cross-country growth rates with respect to resource abundance and dependence; a stochastic frontier analysis to show that technological change is biased more towards energy rather than labor; how recycling and environmental taxes can affect the imbalances between the availability of and the demand for rare earth elements; and the interaction between demographic features and environmental constraints in Caribbean small island developing states. The papers include three empirical contributions and three methodological approaches, which help to improve our understanding of these topics.
The importance of forest conservation in the fight against emissions from deforestation and forest degradation has led to reexamination of the deforestation and economic development relationship. For this purpose, we use the recent method of long-term growth rate developed by Stern et al. (2017) on 85 tropical developing countries over the period 1990–2010. Results show that the EKC is not significant. However, we find a beta convergence across developing countries in terms of deforestation per capita. In other words, these countries converge in terms of policies that prevent deforestation and forest degradation. This implies that, just as with growth effects, beta convergence effects are also important in explaining changes in forest cover in tropical developing countries. The convergence effect in forest cover change may be consistent with the forest transition hypothesis.
This paper contributes to the literature on the determinants of environmental standards by studying the role of income inequality and freedom of the press. Given that evidence of the environmental Kuznets curve has only been found for some countries, it is thus crucial to investigate whether other factors besides income per capita levels may be affecting countries' decisions to pass environmentally-friendly legislation. We investigate the effects that inequality and freedom of the press have on environmental stringency for a sample of OECD and BRIICS countries and a global sample of 82 countries using data over the period 1994–2015. We hypothesize that the more unequal a society is, and the greater the oppression of the press is, the less stringent environmental policies are. The results partially confirm our hypothesis. In particular, lack of press freedom is negatively correlated with environmental stringency, whereas inequality shows a non-linear effect only for non-high-income countries.
Using the panel data of 89 economies from 1995–2012, this study examines the major drivers of agricultural emissions while considering affluence, energy intensity, agriculture value added and economic integration. We find long-run cointegration among the variables. Furthermore, our empirical results based on a dynamic fixed effects autoregressive distributed lag model show that the increases in income and economic integration – proxied by trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) – are the major contributors to higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture in the short run. Additionally, the increases in income, agriculture value added and energy consumption are the major drivers of agricultural emissions in the long run. Notably, trade openness and FDI inflows have significantly negative effects on GHG emissions from agriculture in the long run. These results apply to methane and nitrous oxide emissions. The empirical findings vary across three subsamples of countries at different development stages.
Having enterprises engaged in environmentally friendly behavior is an important part of reducing negative environmental impacts. This study makes a quantitative analysis against the backdrop of China's transitional economic system. The results show that politically-connected enterprises significantly reduce environmental expenditure, but this only holds for state-owned enterprises; private enterprises with political connections spend significantly more. Analysis of the efficiency of environmental expenditure indicates that, for private enterprises, environmental spending is used as a way to maintain political connections, with rent-seeking as the likely motivation. Politically-connected private enterprises have not reduced their emissions to the same extent as state-owned enterprises, despite increased expenditure. Given the scale of environmental degradation in China during a period of massive economic and social upheaval, the results of this analysis provide a quantitative case for policy change: governments should shift focus to the results that environmental spending produces.
Subsidies to promote tree plantations have been questioned because of negative impacts of the forestry industry. Quantitative evidence on the socioeconomic impacts of afforestation subsidies or of tree plantations is elusive, mainly due to data scarcity. We assess the overall impact of a tree plantation subsidy in Chile, using our original 20-year panel dataset that includes small area estimates of poverty and the subsidy assignment at the census-district scale. We show that forestry subsidies – on average – in fact, do increase poverty. More specifically, using difference in difference with matching techniques, and instrumental variables approaches, we show that there is an increase of about 2 per cent in the poverty rate of treated localities. We identify employment as a causal mechanism explaining this finding, since we found a negative effect of tree plantations on employment, and therefore, on poverty. We suggest reassessment of the distributional effects of the forest subsidy and forestry industry.
This work examines the interaction between demographic features and environmental constraints in Caribbean small island developing states. Specifically, it aims to clarify human capital dynamics when migration and environmental quality matter. To do so, two main ingredients are introduced in an overlapping generations model: countries may benefit from migration through a brain gain or remittances, and production emits pollution that hinders the accumulation of human capital. Two cases emerge from the analysis. In the first case, an environmental policy is sufficient to correct the externality, and migration should stay at a relatively low level. In the second case, if pollution emissions are high relative to the effectiveness of environmental policy, migration leads to an increase in per capita output and human capital. This only happens if the emigration rate is already high, because it leads to a reduction in demographic pressure on the environment.
The political incentives of local officials affect their preferences for policy options. This study examines the impact of the convening cycle of Provincial Communist Party Congresses (PCPCs) in China on pollution emission intensity. Based on the data of 281 cities and city officials from 2003 to 2014, the present study finds strong evidence of a political pollution cycle manifesting as significant increases in pollution emission intensity before PCPCs followed by visible decreases after PCPCs. PCPCs provide city officials with strong political incentives to pursue short-term economic performance before congresses, which leads to a surge in pollution emission intensity. The difference in pollution emission intensity before and after the PCPCs reveals the existence of such political incentives. The findings suggest that a significant relationship exists between the political incentives of city officials and environmental pollution. Therefore, the effective governance of environmental pollution must involve changing the incentive structure of city officials.