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The Biggest Story in the World: Economics
Number five in this series of lively and informative audio podcasts linked to
the Guardian's series climate change/leave it in the ground campaign focuses
on the economic questions linked to world-wide transformation away from fossil
fuels, with three main choices: doing nothing, "light green," and "dark
(29 minutes, 2015)
For longer, more thorough, older-but-still-accurate videos about entrepreneurial
opportunities, business challenges and adaptations, and the general economics
of climate change, see our
Climate Economics: The State of the Art
Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton, Stockholm Environment Institute, 2011, 148 pp.
This thorough and wide-ranging look at this complex topic has excellent
introductory chapter summaries to help you navigate the whole. Free download.
Cold Cash, Cool Climate: Science-Based Advice for Ecological Entrepreneurs
Jonathan Koomey, Analytics Press, 2012, 199pp.
Written for entrepreneurs, this readable book offers a summary of the climate
change situation (focused on greenhouse gas emissions), our current choices
and their ramifications, and competing ways of thinking about climate
economics, all as groundwork for thinking about entrepreneurial opportunities
in this critical realm. Good resources (see 104-110 as well as "Further
Reading") and extensive endnotes.
Climate Change: What's Your Business Strategy?
Andrew J. Hoffman and John G. Woody. Boston: Harvard Press,
This short, lucid book (part of Harvard Business School's "Memo to the CEO"
series) is full of useful and interesting information about what businesses
are, can be, and should be doing about the impacts of climate change on their
operations and potentials. "Don't think about climate change as an
environmental issue; think of it as a market issue," the authors suggest, and
then go on to describe in practical and concrete terms what business leaders
need to know and think about.
||articles & essays
Hidden Costs of Climate Change Running Hundreds of Billions a Year
Stephen Leahy, September 2017
Considering both extreme weather (exacerbated by climate change) and the health
impacts of fossil-fuel burning, the costs to the U.S. economy of not acting
are, and will continue to be, very, very high. This story addresses reasons,
possible solutions, and a chart making the comparative costs visual.
Comprehensive Study: Carbon Taxes Won't Hamper the Economy
Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, July 2018
"But global warming will." Eleven modeling teams met at Stanford to consider
this question, and their results agreed. This article from a reliably good
reporter is a good overview of their findings.
Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States
Created by a high-powered team of financial, risk, and climate experts, this
ongoing series of reports tackles the likely and potential damage that we will
face if we stay on our current emissions path. (The co-chairs are three
prominent financial figures: former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson,
a Republican; former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, an Independent;
and financier Thomas Strayer, a Democrat.) Organized according to economic
sector and region, the report focuses on coastal infrastructure, agriculture,
energy needs, and human productivity. Underlying data are in the Rhodium
Group's American Climate Prospectus: Economic Risks in the United States. The
most recent report looks at economic opportunities in tackling climate change.
More Than 900 Examples of How Climate Change Affects Business
Harvard Business School, March 2017
This very interesting set of blog-length reports on likely climate-change
impacts on a huge variety of businesses and what those business are or should
be doing about those impacts results a course assignment to MBA students at
Harvard. A good introduction to the sheer range of such impacts, many of which
might not be immediately obvious.
How Would a Low-Carbon Economy Work?
Eric Marx, ClimateWire, Scientific American, June 2015
A short, clear account of some important practicalities now being considered.
Understanding the Social Cost of Carbon‒and Connecting It to Our Lives
John Wihbey, Yale Climate Connections, February 2015
A very informative discussion of this important measure‒how the monetary
value of carbon put into or kept out of the atmosphere is determined; what
this pricing can and can't do; how it links to our daily decisions.
It's Not Too Late To Stop Climate Change, and It'll Be Super-Cheap
Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, January 2015
An interesting, provocative, and relatively optimistic blog post on the
subject of how to think about the costs of action and inaction on climate
The New Abolitionism
Christopher Hayes, The Nation, April 2014
This provocative essay compares the political economy of slavery and the
political economy of fossil fuel, based on the fact that "Averting planetary
disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10
trillion in wealth." When has something on this economic scale happened
before? When "wealth" in the form of human slavery was abolished.
Climate Change Threatens Economic Growth‒UN Report. How Should Investors React?
Mike Scott, Forbes.com, April 2014
A good introduction to some of the conversation surrounding risks and
opportunities for businesses and investors who are paying attention to the
climate news and prospects.
The Two Numbers Climate Economists Can't Stand to See Together
Alex Morales, Bloomberg, March 2014
How much might climate change cost in damages? How much might it cost to
prevent some of those damages? The second and third working groups of the
2014 IPCC report (impacts and solutions) both offer numbers, but because they
measure different things (and don't measure everything important), they can't
be compared. An informative article on this often confusing topic.
Economist Says Best Climate Fix A Tough Sell, But Worth It
Richard Harris, NPR, February 2014
Appealing introduction to (and excerpt from) a new book by prominent economist
William Nordhaus, The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for
a Warming World.
How British Columbia Enacted the Most Effective Carbon Tax in North America
Chris Mooney, Atlantic (and Climate Desk), March 2014
With this story of one real-world example, this article offers sound footing
in a sometimes contentious topic.
Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers
Nancy D. Israel, Ceres, October 2013
This lucid, comprehensive report "focuses on five disaster relief and recovery
programs in which the costs of inaction on climate risk are most pronounced"
(federal disaster relief, the federal flood and crop insurance programs,
wildfire protection, and state-run insurance plans) and recommends practical
changes to how these programs are run. For another piece on the same subject,
see Coral Davenport's thorough, eye-opening, and readable article,
The Scary Truth About How Much Climate Change Is Costing You (National
Journal, February 2013).
Why the World Bank Is Taking On Climate Change
National Journal, August 2013
This pithy interview with the World Bank's vice president of sustainable
development, Rachel Kyte, makes a good, quick introduction to the bank's
current focus on climate change and its relationship with sustainable
development and the fight against poverty. See also
bank's climate change site.
Can China Clean Up Fast Enough?
The Economist, August 2013
An excellent article about China's huge problems with pollution, both local
(filthy air, toxic water and soil) and global (carbon dioxide) and what the
country is doing about them. For a good short video introduction to this
Microsoft's Carbon Fee: Integrating the Environment into Everyday Business
TJ Dicaprio, The Guardian, June 2013
Interesting blog by the woman in charge of environmental sustainability at
Microsoft about her company's internal carbon fee‒why they created it
(in 2012) and how it works.
Emissions: How Companies Can Bridge the 'Gigaton Gap' and Make Money
Daniel Cusick, ClimateWire, June 2013
This article clearly details the incentives for businesses to reduce their
carbon emissions‒and the urgency with which they need to do so.
The "Social Cost of Carbon"
Brad Plumer, Washington Post, June 2013
A clear explanation of what this number means and how the U.S. government
calculates it, in the context of a 2013 update.
Melting Ice Opens Fight Over Sea Routes for Arctic Debate
Flavia Krause-Jackson and Nicole Gaouette, Bloomberg, May 2013
Some of the ramifications of the opening of arctic waters for trade routes,
resource mining, national security, and other important topics.
64 companies follow Wal-Mart's effort to reduce suppliers' emissions
Julia Pyper, ClimateWore, May 2013
Good quick story about the efforts taken by very large companies, including
Walmart, to cut the carbon emissions from their supply chains.
What is Climate Finance and Where Will It Come From?
Samuel Fankhauser, Grantham Research Institute and The Guardian, April 2013
Helpful primer on "flows of funds from developed to developing nations to help
poorer countries to cut their emissions and adapt to climate change." Part of
the Guardian's climate change FAQ series, which includes other central
Investors Seek Ways to Profit From Global Warming
Business Week, March 2013
This short piece details how companies are now viewing climate change as
inevitable and buying up water rights, water treatment plants, arable land,
etc., to prepare for when the demand for these will soar.
In Energy Taxes, Tools to Help Tackle Climate Change
Eduardo Porter, New York Times, January 2013
An overview of some of the costs of dealing with climate-change linked events
(such as crop-destroying droughts), in the context of the energy taxes levied
by many nations other than the US.
Carbon Tax V. Cap-and-Trade: Which is Better?
Grantham Research Institute, The Guardian, January 2013
This short, clear explanation of these two options is part of this newspaper's
"ultimate climate change FAQ" series.
The Secret to Solar Power
Jeff Himmelman, New York Times, August 2012
Entertaining and informative piece about the significant financial benefits of
solar power (especially leased), both for individuals and for companies, and
how this plus is sometimes obscured by the industry's lingering image as
Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong
William D. Nordhaus, New York Review of Books, March 22, 2012
Straightforward refutation of the six main points made by skeptics in the
Wall Street Journal, written by an economist from Yale whose work they
misunderstand and distort.
As Global Temps Rise, More Companies Begin Adapting to a Warmer
Michael Coren, Yale Climate Media Forum,
Interesting article about the ways major global companies are taking climate
change seriously and incorporating its effects into their business plans. Good
links to sources.
A New American Environmentalism and the New Economy
James Gustave Speth, 2010, 17 pp (plus additional materials)
Clear-eyed, grounded, and visionary talk by a distinguished thinker (and
achiever) about how our future wellbeing depends on our inventing new versions
of environmentalism, economy, economics, and politics. A key articulation of
some central principles of sustainability.
Building a Green Economy
Paul Krugman, New York Times Magazine, April 11, 2010
A lucid, thorough, balanced overview of current ideas about the economics of
various ways of lessening the impacts of climate change, along with a
well-argued position on the subject from the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize
The US Economic Impacts of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction
Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland, 2007
This clearly written report is organized by region and covers costs related
to water supply, agriculture, coastal impacts, energy, forest fires, human
health, and insurance claims. 40 pages, plus references.
The Economics of Climate Change: A Primer
U.S. Congressional Budget Office, 2003
In some fifty pages of very readable text and figures, plus extensive notes
and sources, the CBO lays out in a clear language the basics of thinking about
climate change in terms of economics and associated policy.
Clean Economy Wire
This subset of (the Pulitzer Prize winning) InsideClimate News collects
stories about clean energy economic development. A good one-stop shop for
this sort of information.
This coalition of investors, companies, and public interest groups, which
works to "weave sustainable strategies and practices into the fabric and
decision-making of . . . key economic players," pays attention to climate
change, water, energy, and supply chains. Interesting website even for those
of us who don't control investments or run businesses.
Climate Change Economics
This site offers basic economics guidance on cap and trade programs,
mitigation and adaptation, cost-benefit analysis, discounting the future,
equity as efficiency, pricing non-market goods, and risk and uncertainty-as
well as sections on lessons from experience, tools for legislators, and many
links to web resources and articles. Useful both for nonspecialists and for
teachers and students of economics.
An Introduction to the Economics of Climate Change Policy
John P. Weyant (prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change),
A comprehensive overview of factors used in computer modeling of climate
change economics, focused on the reasons model results are so varied.
Nonspecialist readers will find these 46 pages challenging but educational;
specialist teachers and students should find in them a very useful account of
key issues in the field.