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Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt

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Listed:
  • Jan Kunnas
  • Eoin McLaughlin
  • Nick Hanley
  • David Greasley
  • Les Oxley
  • Paul Warde

Abstract

This article examines how to account for the welfare effects of carbon dioxide emissions, using the historical experiences of Britain and the USA from the onset of the industrial revolution to the present. While a single country might isolate itself from the detrimental effects of global warming in the short run, in the long all countries are unable to free ride. Thus, we support the use of a single global price for carbon dioxide emissions. The calculated price should decrease as we move back in time to take into account that carbon dioxide is a stock pollutant, and that one unit added to the present large stock is likely to cause more damage than a unit emitted under the lower concentration levels in the past. We incorporate the annual costs of British and US carbon emissions into genuine savings, and calculate the accumulated costs of their carbon dioxide emissions. Enlarging the scope and calculating the cumulative cost of carbon dioxide from the four largest emitters gives new insights into the question of who is responsible for climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Kunnas & Eoin McLaughlin & Nick Hanley & David Greasley & Les Oxley & Paul Warde, 2014. "Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(3), pages 243-265, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:sehrxx:v:62:y:2014:i:3:p:243-265
    DOI: 10.1080/03585522.2014.896284
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. World Bank, 2011. "The Changing Wealth of Nations : Measuring Sustainable Development in the New Millennium," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2252, March.
    2. Greasley, David & Hanley, Nicholas & McLaughlin, Eoin & Oxley, Les & Warde, Paul, 2012. "Testing for long-run "sustainability": Genuine Savings estimates for B ritain, 1760-2000," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2012-05, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
    3. Price, Richard & Thornton, Simeon & Nelson, Stephen, 2007. "The Social Cost of Carbon and the Shadow Price of Carbon: what they are, and how to use them in economic appraisal in the UK," MPRA Paper 74976, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nick Hanley & Louis Dupuy & Eoin McLaughlin, 2015. "Genuine Savings And Sustainability," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 779-806, September.
    2. Fouquet, Roger, 2016. "Lessons from energy history for climate policy: technological change, demand and economic development," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67785, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Matthias Blum & Cristián Ducoing & Eoin McLaughlin, 2016. "Genuine Savings in developing and developed countries, 1900-2000," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2016-15, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    4. Greasley, David & Hanley, Nick & McLaughlin, Eoin & Oxley, Les, 2014. "The Emperor Has New Clothes: Empirical Tests of Mainstream Theories of Economic Growth," SIRE Discussion Papers 2015-01, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    5. Matthias Blum & Eoin McLaughlin & Nick Hanley, 2014. "Accounting for Sustainable Development over the Long-Run:Lessons from Germany," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2014-10, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    6. Roger Fouquet, 2015. "Lessons from energy history for climate policy," GRI Working Papers 209, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

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