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Climate change and carbon markets: a panoramic history

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  • Raphael Calel
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    Abstract

    International carbon markets have grown quickly in recent years, but have also experienced serious problems and faced harsh criticism. This paper looks at the history of climate science, at how the economics of emissions trading developed, and at the formation of international institutions to address climate change. From this historical perspective it appears that climate change was a problem in need of a solution, and that emissions trading was a solution in search of bigger and bigger problems to solve. The political pressure to reach an international climate agreement was building rapidly in the 1990s, and the resulting marriage of climate change and carbon markets occurred before the quality of the match could be adequately assessed. Many of the problems with international carbon markets can, at a fundamental level, be traced to this imperfect match. This panoramic historical perspective draws attention to the fact that climate change is a very different kind of pollution problem than emissions trading was originally designed to remedy. This helps shed light on recent experiences, and on how international carbon markets must change to provide the benefits they promise.

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    File URL: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/wp52_climate-change-carbon-markets-history.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in its series Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers with number 52.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp52

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    1. Downing, Paul B. & White, Lawrence J., 1986. "Innovation in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 18-29, March.
    2. Woerdman, Edwin, 2001. "Emissions trading and transaction costs: analyzing the flaws in the discussion," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 293-304, August.
    3. Nordhaus, William D, 1977. "Economic Growth and Climate: The Carbon Dioxide Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 341-46, February.
    4. De Perthuis, Christian & Convery, Frank J. & Ellerman, Denny, 2010. "Pricing carbon : the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10174, Paris Dauphine University.
    5. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1981. "Pigouvian Taxation with Administrative Costs," NBER Working Papers 0742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Weitzman, Martin L, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 477-91, October.
    7. Yohe, Gary Wynn, 1977. "Comparisons of price and quantity controls: A survey," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 213-233, September.
    8. Roger Fouquet & Peter J. G. Pearson, 1998. "A Thousand Years of Energy Use in the United Kingdom," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 1-41.
    9. Ellerman,A. Denny & Convery,Frank J. & de Perthuis,Christian, 2010. "Pricing Carbon," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521196475.
    10. Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Transaction Costs and Tradeable Permits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 133-148, September.
    11. Adar, Zvi & Griffin, James M., 1976. "Uncertainty and the choice of pollution control instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 178-188, October.
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