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Felix Suntheim
The shutdown in economic activity due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis has resulted in a short-term decline in global carbon emissions, but the long-term impact of the pandemic on the transition to a low-carbon economy is uncertain. Looking at previous episodes of financial and economic stress to draw implications for the current crisis, we find that tighter financial constraints and adverse economic conditions are generally detrimental to firms’ environmental performance, reducing green investments. The COVID-19 crisis could thus potentially slow down the transition to a low-carbon economy. In light of the urgent need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, these findings underline the importance of climate policies and green recovery packages to boost green investment and support the energy transition. Policies that support the sustainable finance sector, such as improved transparency and standardization, could further help mobilize green investments.
Nicoletta Batini, Mario di Serio, Matteo Fragetta, and Mr. Giovanni Melina
This paper estimates multipliers for spending in clean energy and biodiversity conservation to help inform stimulus measures for a post-COVID-19 sustainable recovery. Using a new international dataset, part of which was especially assembled for this analysis, we find that every dollar spent on key carbon-neutral or carbon-sink activities—from zero-emission power plants to the protection of wildlife and ecosystems—can generate more than a dollar’s worth of economic activity. The estimated multipliers associated with green spending are about 2 to 7 times larger than those associated with non-eco-friendly expenditure, depending on sectors, technologies and horizons. These findings survive several robustness checks and suggest that ‘building back better’ could be a win-win for economies and the planet.
Mr. Jiaqian Chen, Maksym Chepeliev, Mr. Daniel Garcia-Macia, Ms. Dora M Iakova, Mr. James Roaf, Ms. Anna Shabunina, Dominique van der Mensbrugghe, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
This paper aims to contribute to the debate on the choice of policies to reach the more ambitious 2030 emission reduction goals currently under consideration. It provides an analysis of the macroeconomic and distributional impacts of different options to scale up the mitigation effort, and proposes enhancements to the existing EU policies. A key finding is that a well-designed package, consisting of more extensive carbon pricing across EU countries and sectors, combined with cuts in distortionary taxes and targeted green investment support, would allow the EU to reach the emission goals with practically no effects on aggregate income. To enhance the social and political acceptance of climate policies, part of the revenue from carbon pricing should be used to compensate the most vulnerable households and to support the transition of workers to greener jobs. A carbon border adjustment mechanism could complement the package to avoid an increase in emissions outside the EU due to higher carbon prices in the EU (“carbon leakage”). From a risk-reward perspective, the benefits of reducing the risk of extreme life-threatening climate events and the health benefits from lower air pollution clearly outweigh the costs of mitigation policies.
Gail Cohen, João Tovar Jalles, Mr. Prakash Loungani, Ricardo Marto, and Gewei Wang
We provide a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GDP in China using both aggregate and provincial data. The Kuznets elasticity is about 0.6 for China, higher than that in advanced countries but below that of major emerging markets. The elasticity is somewhat lower for consumption-based emissions than for production-based emissions, providing mild evidence consistent with the “pollution haven” hypothesis. The Kuznets elasticity is much lower for the last three decades than for the three previous decades, suggesting a longer-term trend toward decoupling as China has become richer. Further evidence of this comes from provincial data: richer provinces tend to have smaller Kuznets elasticities than poorer ones. In addition to the trend relationship, we find that the Environmental Okun's Law holds in China.
Gail Cohen, João Tovar Jalles, Mr. Prakash Loungani, and Ricardo Marto
For the world's 20 largest emitters, we use a simple trend/cycle decomposition to provide evidence of decoupling between greenhouse gas emissions and output in richer nations, particularly in European countries, but not yet in emerging markets. If consumption-based emissions—measures that account for countries' net emissions embodied in cross-border trade—are used, the evidence for decoupling in the richer economies gets weaker. Countries with underlying policy frameworks more supportive of renewable energy and climate change mitigation efforts tend to show greater decoupling between trend emissions and trend GDP, and for both production- and consumption-based emissions. The relationship between trend emissions and trend GDP has also become much weaker in the last two decades than in preceding decades.
Gail Cohen, João Tovar Jalles, Mr. Prakash Loungani, and Ricardo Marto
Recent discussions of the extent of decoupling between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and real gross domestic product (GDP) provide mixed evidence and have generated much debate. We show that to get a clear picture of decoupling it is important to distinguish cycles from trends: there is an Environmental Okun's Law (a cyclical relationship between emissions and real GDP) that often obscures the trend relationship between emissions and real GDP. We show that, once the cyclical relationship is accounted for, the trends show evidence of decoupling in richer nations—particularly in European countries, but not yet in emerging markets. The picture changes somewhat, however, if we take into consideration the effects of international trade, that is, if we distinguish between production-based and consumption-based emissions. Once we add in their net emission transfers, the evidence for decoupling among the richer countries gets weaker. The good news is that countries with underlying policy frameworks more supportive of renewable energy and supportive of climate change tend to have greater decoupling between trend emissions and trend GDP, and for both production- and consumption-based emissions.