Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Are the benefits of avoiding global warming regressive?

Posted by Rich Sweeney on November 16, 2007

The Best. Panel. Ever. certainly lived up to it’s billing. In fact I’d venture to say it was the most informative such event I’ve been to so far in DC. All of the slides from the day are available at the link Daniel posted below. There are some really teriffic graphs and statistics in there, which I hope to comment on further over the next week or so.

Quickly though, I do want to throw the title of this post out there as a question. Many of the speakers at today’s CBO event commented on the fact that the costs of any carbon policy would be highly regressive (check out Gilbert Metcalf’s slides if you want to see some estimates). But then Richard Goettle made a comment that the benefits of avoiding global warming would be highly regressive also, somewhat offsetting the regressive costs. Now I understand how the damage from global warming could affect poorer countries around the world disproportionately, but I don’t see why averting climate change would disproportionately benefit the poor within the United States. I’m not saying this is wrong, it’s just not obvious to me. Does anyone have an explanation, or even better, a citation for this?

One Response to “Are the benefits of avoiding global warming regressive?”

  1. Conrad said

    Possibly the implication is that shocks to the agricultural sector from climate change may cause volatility in food prices — impacting those with a large proportion of their income devoted to food expenses. In the US, I believe, this is the lower income quartiles.

    The correct spelling of “Ever.” is “Evar.”, btw.

    ~Conrad (rff RA)

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