Urbanisation in India is taking many twists and turns. Organised manufacturing is moving out of urban areas, while unorganised manufacturing is transitioning towards urban areas. As the fourth greatest energy consumer in the world, how the country manages this ongoing industrialisation and urbanisation process will have important environmental implications. This column looks at the relationship between growth, geography, and energy efficiency in manufacturing in India. Electricity consumption per unit of output has declined in urban and rural areas, but these overall trends mask substantial variation between states and substantial potential for further efficiency improvements in energy-intensive industries.
Ejaz Ghani, Arti Grover Goswami, William Kerr, Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - 00:00
Lucas Bretschger, Sunday, October 11, 2015 - 00:00
There is reasonable hope that the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris (COP21) will reach a consistent global climate agreement. What makes the negotiations particularly difficult is not economic efficiency, but the equity implications of climate policy. This column presents a framework for incorporating equity concerns into policy design. Building from four equity principles, it reduces the complex problem of international burden sharing to a simple rule tied to a single metric.
Matthew E. Kahn, Cong Sun, Siqi Zheng, Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 00:00
China’s cities suffer from extremely high levels of air pollution, and Chinese consumers spend more than $US100 million on anti-smog products per year. Using recent internet sales data, this column explores how investing in such self-protection products varies for consumers with different income brackets. The urban poor are shown to be less likely to engage in this health-improving strategy. This suggests that cross-sectional income comparisons understate lifetime inequality.
Arik Levinson, James O'Brien, Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 00:00
Laura Grigolon, Mathias Reynaert, Frank Verboven, Saturday, January 10, 2015 - 00:00
Victor Lavy, Avraham Ebenstein, Sefi Roth, Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 00:00
Arik Levinson, Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 00:00
Radek Stefanski, Friday, May 30, 2014 - 00:00
No comprehensive database of directly measured fossil-fuel subsidies exists at the international or the sub-national level, yet subsidies may be crucial drivers of global carbon emissions. This column describes a novel method for inferring carbon subsidies by examining country-specific patterns in carbon emission-to-output ratios, known as emission intensities. Calculations for 170 nations from 1980-2010 reveal that fossil-fuel price distortions are enormous, increasing, and often hidden. These subsidies contributed importantly to increasing emissions and lower growth.
Richard S J Tol, Friday, April 25, 2014 - 00:00
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report estimates lower costs of climate change and higher costs of abatement than the Stern Review. However, current UN negotiations focus on stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at even lower levels than recommended by Stern. This column argues that, given realistic estimates of the rate at which people discount the future, the UN’s target is probably too stringent. Moreover, since real-world climate policy is far from the ideal of a uniform carbon price, the costs of emission reduction are likely to be much higher than the IPCC’s estimates.
Lucija Muehlenbachs, Beia Spiller, Christopher Timmins, Sunday, February 9, 2014 - 00:00
Compared to coal and oil, shale gas offers the prospect of greater energy independence and lower emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. However, fracking is controversial due to the local externalities it creates – particularly because of the potential for groundwater contamination. This column presents evidence on the size of these externalities from a recent study of house prices. The effect attributable to groundwater contamination risk varies from 10% to 22% of the value of the house, depending on its distance from the shale gas well.
Jeffrey Frankel, Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 00:00
Market-based mechanisms such as cap-and-trade can tackle externality problems more efficiently than command-and-control regulations. However, politicians in the US and Europe have retreated from cap-and-trade in recent years. This column draws a parallel between Republicans’ abandonment of market-based environmental regulation and their recent disavowal of mandatory health insurance. The author argues that in practice, the alternative to market-based regulation is not an absence of regulation, but rather the return of inefficient mandates and subsidies.
Rafael Lalive, Simon Luechinger, Armin Schmutzler, Friday, March 15, 2013 - 00:00
Against a backdrop of road accidents, pollution and congestion, many governments subsidise railways with the aim of reducing such externalities. But do improvements in public transport work? This column argues that recent empirical evidence confirms our expectations and, moreover, that public-transport improvements offer good value for money.
Rafael Lalive, Simon Luechinger, Armin Schmutzler, Sunday, February 10, 2013 - 00:00
Many governments subsidise regional rail service as an alternative to road traffic. This paper assesses whether increases in service frequency reduce road traffic externalities.
Lucija Muehlenbachs, Beia Spiller, Christopher Timmins, Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 00:00
Natural gas is seen as an attractive source of energy – it is cleaner than coal and often more reliable. But there are potential risks from the drilling and hydraulic fracturing process. This column shows how shale gas extraction could reduce property prices, and argues that policymakers need to bear this in mind when thinking about the costs and benefits.
Jean-Marie Grether, Nicole A. Mathys, Jaime de Melo, Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 00:00
Environmentalists have long feared that globalisation will harm the environment by allowing heavily polluting industries to migrate to countries with lax environmental standards. This column presents new evidence from several industries across many countries for all the major pollutants. It suggests that lax policy has only had a small effect on the pollution content of trade.
Matthew E. Kahn, Siqi Zheng, Tuesday, April 14, 2009 - 00:00
What should China do about its noted pollution problems? This column shows that Chinese cities with less air pollution have higher home prices, suggesting that “green amenities” enter housing prices. Moreover, this marginal valuation of clean air is rising over time. China’s major cities may be becoming cleaner as their inhabitants demand improved environmental conditions.
Judith M. Dean , Mary E. Lovely, Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 00:00
Chinese trade and pollution have exploded over the last decade. But new evidence shows that trade isn’t to blame for the pollution. In fact, Chinese imports and exports are becoming cleaner over time.
Arik Levinson, Wednesday, January 2, 2008 - 00:00
Since the 1970s, US manufacturing output has risen by 70% but air pollution has fallen by 58%. Was this due to improved abatement technology or shifting dirty production abroad?