New CEPR eBook - No brainers and low-hanging fruit in national climate policy

Friday, October 8, 2021

Countries worldwide have pledged to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet real concerns exist that targets will not be met and aspirations for the 2015 Paris agreement will fall short. A new CEPR eBook, with contributions from economists working in more than 18 countries, provides timely and concise recommendations on achievable and efficient climate change policies that can be fast-tracked for implementation. 

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The research makes clear that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Achievable objectives and ‘low-hanging fruit’ differ across countries, depending on political constraints, geography, natural-resource endowment, industrial structure, government institutions and more. Crucially, in order to guarantee that world climate goals are achieved, and that the world economy thus reaches net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, effective and feasible policies must be implemented post haste.  

This CEPR eBook, edited by Francesco Caselli, Alexander Ludwig, and Rick van der Ploeg, offers contributions to each of the featured nations’ debates over the climate change policies to fast track. The authors discuss which policies will have the fastest and/or largest cumulative impact, which strategies are the most technically or financially feasible, and which are least likely to hit political-economy obstacles to their implementation. 

It is also evident from the research that policymakers can learn from established and successful policies already in existence in other countries, and several common themes emerge which authors suggest must be capitalised on. These include, reforming policies on carbon taxation and regulations on carbon emissions, rethinking policies on the price mechanism and the elimination of energy subsidies, the use of retraining programmes aimed at increasing the supply of ‘green’ skills, increases in public investment in green infrastructure, better information provision on the climate risk involved in respective technologies, and others. Chapters within the book,  thus serve as useful case studies for other countries, allowing them to identify similar low-hanging fruit – particularly at a point when some countries are further behind in their fight against carbon emissions than others.

The authors also highlight general climate policy priorities, transcending the country specific research which forms the focus of this book. These include mandating the phasing-out of all fossil fuel extraction, ending subsidies for fossil fuel or carbon-intensive economic activities, pricing carbon as uniformly as possible for each country and each sector to internalise the global warming externalities resulting from emissions, subsidising renewable energy production to internalise learning-by-doing externalities, tree planting, and climate-friendly agricultural innovation.

Time is running out in the global fight against climate change. This eBook contributes towards the growing discourse with comprehensive analysis and detailed appraisals on a range of practical and cost-effective policy actions that governments can implement in the short- and long-term to work towards attaining respective climate objectives.

You can also read a VoxEU column here