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Closing Coal: Economic and Moral Incentives


  • Paul Collier
  • Anthony J Venables


Climate policy requires that much of the world’s reserves of fossil fuels remain unburned. This paper makes the case for implementing this directly through policy to close the global coal industry. Coal is singled out because of its high emissions intensity, low rents per unit value, local environmental costs and sheer scale. Direct supply policy – such as the sequenced closure of countries’ coal mines – may lead to less policy leakage (across countries and time) than other policies based on demand or price management. It also has the advantage of involving relatively few players and leading to clear-cut and observable outcomes. It is therefore better able to create the moral force needed to mobilize the collective international action that is required.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Collier & Anthony J Venables, 2014. "Closing Coal: Economic and Moral Incentives," OxCarre Working Papers 132, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:132

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Jakob & Robert Marschinski & Michael Hübler, 2013. "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Trade-Theory Analysis of Leakage Under Production- and Consumption-Based Policies," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 56(1), pages 47-72, September.
    2. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2008. "Public policies against global warming: a supply side approach," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(4), pages 360-394, August.
    3. Timur Kuran, 1989. "Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 41-74, April.
    4. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2012. "The Green Paradox: A Supply-Side Approach to Global Warming," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262016680, January.
    5. Bård Harstad, 2012. "Buy Coal! A Case for Supply-Side Environmental Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 77-115.
    6. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:trapol:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:71-74 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Pfeiffer, Alexander & Millar, Richard & Hepburn, Cameron & Beinhocker, Eric, 2016. "The ‘2°C capital stock’ for electricity generation: Committed cumulative carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector and the transition to a green economy," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 1395-1408.
    3. Kim Collins & Roman Mendelevitch, 2015. "Leaving Coal Unburned: Options for Demand-Side and Supply-Side Policies," DIW Roundup: Politik im Fokus 87, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item


    climate change; coal; cap and trade; supply policy;

    JEL classification:

    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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