Friday, November 6, 2009

Economists Surveyed re: Climate Policy

The Institute for Policy Integrity (IPI) has just published the results of a survey it conducted of economists'  opinions on climate policy. The sample included approximately 300 economists, all of whom had published at least one article on climate policy in a top-25 economics journal during the preceding 15 years.

Among the most interesting findings: 75% of respondents believe that uncertainty regarding the environmental and economic effects of climate change increases the value of emissions controls, assuming some level of risk aversion;  57% believe that the US should commit to greenhouse gas emissions reductions "regardless of the actions of other countries;" nearly 3/4 believe the US should commit to greenhouse emissions reductions pursuant to some multilateral emissions reduction treaty; and only 2.1% believe the US should do nothing regardless of the actions of other countries.

Not surprisingly, over 90% of surveyed economists prefer carbon taxes or cap-and-trade over traditional forms of regulation ("command-and-control"). Also not surprisingly, the surveyed economists recommended a wide range of discount rates for reducing future costs and benefits of climate policies to net present value. The median rate was 2.4%, but 36.8% of surveyed economists thought hyperbolic discounting should be used. A small, but in some respects surprisingly large, minority of 16.7% opposed discounting. The median estimate of the social cost of carbon was $50, but the estimates ranged widely.

The entire report can be found here.

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