International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
While the IMF has been involved in the climate debate since at least 2008, a systematic account of how to integrate climate change into surveillance has been lacking to date. This paper seeks to fill the gap. It argues that domestic policy challenges related to climate change—such as adaptation efforts for climate vulnerable countries, or policies to deliver a country’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris climate accord—are covered by the IMF’s bilateral surveillance mandate and therefore valid topics for Article IV consultations wherever these challenges cross the threshold of macro-criticality. Climate change mitigation is a global policy challenge and therefore falls under multilateral surveillance. The paper proposes a pragmatic approach that focusses especially on the mitigation efforts of the 20 largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
This paper discusses the role of, and provides
practical country-level guidance on, fiscal policies for implementing climate strategies
using a unique and transparent tool laying out trade-offs among policy options.
The Fund has a role to play in helping its members address those challenges of climate change for which fiscal and macroeconomic policies are an important component of the appropriate policy response. The greenhouse gas mitigation pledges submitted by over 160 countries ahead of the pivotal Climate Conference in Paris in December represent an important step by the international community towards containing the extent of global warming.
Strategies for reducing emissions will reflect countries’ differing initial positions, political constraints and circumstances. Carbon pricing can, however, play a critical role in meeting in the most efficient and effective way the commitments that countries are now entering into; it can also raise substantial revenues that can be used to reduce other, more distorting taxes. Through its incentive effects, carbon pricing will also help mobilize private finance for mitigation activities and spur the innovation needed to address climate challenges. Finance ministries have a key role to play in promoting and implementing these policies and ensuring efficient use of the revenue raised.
The process of climate change is set to have a significant economic impact on many countries, with a large number of lower income countries being particularly at risk. Macroeconomic policies in these countries will need to be calibrated to accommodate more frequent weather shocks, including by building policy space to respond to shocks; infrastructure will need to be upgraded to enhance economic resilience. It will be important that developing countries seeking to make these adaptations have access to sufficient financial support on generous terms.
Financial markets will play an important role in helping economic agents and governments in coping with climate change-induced shocks. And heightened climate vulnerabilities and the structural adjustments associated with a shift towards a low-carbon economy over the medium-term will have important implications for financial institutions and financial stability.
This paper identifies areas in which the Fund has a contribution to make in supporting its members deal with the macroeconomic challenges of climate change, consistent with national circumstances. It draws on materials contained in a forthcoming Staff Discussion Note (Farid et al. 2015) and has benefited from the discussions at informal Board meetings on IMF work on climate change held on September 30 and November 24, 2015.
This paper reviews the fiscal implications of climate change, and the potential role of the Fund in addressing them. It stresses that:
• The potential fiscal implications are immediate as well as lasting, and liable to affect—in differing forms and degree—all Fund members.
• Climate change is a global externality problem, calling for some degree of international fiscal cooperation…
• …and has features—an intertemporal mismatch between the (early) costs of action to address climate change and (later) benefits, pervasive uncertainties and irreversibilities (including risk of catastrophe), and sharp asymmetries in the effects on different countries—that raise difficult technical and ethical issues, and hinder policy coordination.
• In addition to itself impacting the public finances, climate change calls for deploying fiscal instruments to mitigate its extent and adapt to its remaining effects.