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This course introduces the economic view of climate change, including both theory and empirical evidence. Given the substantial changes implied by the current stock of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, we will begin by looking at impacts on agriculture, health, income, and migration. We will consider the distribution of climate damages across poor and wealthy people, both within and across countries. Next we will study adaptation, including capital investments and behavioral changes. We will examine the sources of climate change, especially electricity generation and transportation, and think about optimal policies. What is the socially optimal amount of climate change? Why have countries had such a hard time agreeing on GHG emissions reductions, and how might we overcome such difficulties? We will consider the growing body of evidence from attempts to regulate GHGs, including China’s cap-and-trade programs, the EU ETS, and US state policies. Throughout the course we will discuss the limits of the economic approach, pointing out normative questions on which economic theory provides little guidance.
Format: lecture; Lectures, office hours and TA sessions will take place on Zoom.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
problem sets, midterm, group presentation, final exam
ECON 251, familiarity with statistics
Junior/Senior Economics majors and CDE fellows
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
The course involves simple calculus-based theory and applied statistics.
ENVI Environmental Policy
MAST Interdepartmental Electives
POEC Comparative POEC/Public Policy Courses