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On a World Climate Assembly and the Social Cost of Carbon

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  • Martin Weitzman

Abstract

This paper postulates the conceptually useful allegory of a futuristic “World Climate Assembly” (WCA) that votes for a single worldwide price on carbon emissions via the basic democratic principle of one-person one-vote majority rule. If this WCA framework can be accepted in the first place, then voting on a single internationally- binding minimum carbon price (the proceeds from which are domestically retained) tends to counter self-interest by incentivizing countries or agents to internalize the externality. I attempt to sketch out the sense in which each WCA-agent's extra cost from a higher emissions price is counter-balanced by that agent's extra benefit from inducing all other WCA-agents to simultaneously lower their emissions in response to the higher price. The first proposition of this paper derives a relatively simple formula relating each emitter's single-peaked most-preferred world price of carbon emissions to the world “Social Cost of Carbon” (SCC). The second and third propositions relate the WCA-voted world price of carbon to the world SCC. I argue that the WCA-voted price and the SCC are unlikely to differ sharply. Some implications are discussed. The overall methodology of the paper is a mixture of mostly classical with some behavioral economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Weitzman, 2016. "On a World Climate Assembly and the Social Cost of Carbon," NBER Working Papers 22813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22813
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    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 477-491.
    2. Gary D. Libecap, 2013. "Addressing Global Environmental Externalities: Transaction Costs Considerations," NBER Working Papers 19501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bergquist, Ann-Kristin & Cole, Shawn A. & Ehrenfeld, John & King, Andrew A. & Schendler, Auden, 2019. "Understanding and Overcoming Roadblocks to Environmental Sustainability: Past Roads and Future Prospects," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 93(1), pages 127-148, April.
    2. Stavins, Robert N., 2019. "The Future of U.S. Carbon-Pricing Policy: Normative Assessment and Positive Prognosis," Working Paper Series rwp19-017, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Kuriyama, Akihisa & Abe, Naoya, 2018. "Ex-post assessment of the Kyoto Protocol – quantification of CO2 mitigation impact in both Annex B and non-Annex B countries-," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 220(C), pages 286-295.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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