22 Jul 2011

Notes from EAERE

I attended the annual meeting of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in Rome.

Here are a few miscellaneous notes:
  • Rome is beautiful (the "gala dinner" was at the Villa Giulia, picture at right).
  • Our hotel put shampoo in little plastic sachets. These are better than plastic bottles (cost, environment), and I wonder when they will catch on everywhere?
  • The EU's Directorate-General for the Environment has a booklet with the title " EU environment policy supporting jobs and growth" [no web link? WTF?] that pitches a "win win" version of environmental protection. Although I agree with the sentiment, they recast data to make their case in a way that's more agit/prop than fact. According to the booklet, e.g., 40% of Romanian employees work in the "natural resources" sector. I reckon they are coal and steel workers.
  • Dale Jorgenson gave a boring talk on the industrial distribution of impacts from higher energy prices (link to presentation; look at top papers here for his work), but one of his numbers was fascinating: he estimated that the quantity of coal sold would fall by 62% by 2060 but its price would rise by 370%. Using a baseline revenue of 100 in 2010, that implies revenue of 140 in 2060 (constant dollars). That's a win for those who remain in the coal business (and any investor with a diversified portfolio).
  • Check out the World Business Environment Survey.
  • In the panel session on climate change, Richard Tol made the interesting claim that global warming (currently locked in at +2.1C since we're at 430ppm CO2e now and will be at 450ppm in a few years) is estimated to reach +4.1C with optimal policy by the 23rd century. It will reach +4.6C without any policy. The upshot (to me) is that we need to start working on adapting to climate change. Distributional problems (bad for Bangladesh vs. not much Norway) are going to be more important than these mean temperatures. Oh, and remember that the chance of "human wipeout" exceeds 50 percent with a +5.7C increase in average temperatures.
Coming soon, notes and links to interesting papers...