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NANCY BIRDSALL and ANDREW STEER

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

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.
Ms. Thornton Matheson
This paper provides an overview of global solid waste generation, its environmental costs, and fiscal instruments that can be used to encourage waste reduction and finance proper disposal. Countries—especially island nations--struggle to manage an ever-increasing volume of solid waste, generation of which is projected to exceed 2 billion tons a year by 2025. Although solid waste management is usually relegated to subnational governments, externalities from inadequate management, which include greenhouse gas emissions and ocean plastic pollution, reach global scale. National governments thus play a critical role in creating incentives for waste minimization and ensuring adequate resources for proper waste management. This paper evaluates potential fiscal instruments to achieve these goals, particularly in developing country policy environments.
Mr. Geoffrey J Bannister and Mr. Alex Mourmouras
We present estimates of welfare by country for 2007 and 2014 using the methodology of Jones and Klenow (2016) which incorporates consumption, leisure, mortality and inequality, and we extend the methodology to include environmental externalities. During the period of the global financial crisis welfare grew slightly more rapidly than income per capita, mainly due to improvements in life expectancy. This led to welfare convergence in most regions towards advanced country levels. Introducing environmental effects changes the welfare ranking for countries that rely heavily on natural resources, highlighting the importance of the natural resource base in welfare. This methodology could provide a theoretically consistent and tractable way of monitoring progress in several Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators.
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.