Professor of Economics and Public Affairs
Colleague and Friend (1941-2005)
The most interesting of my environmental projects is work on the “architecture” of a global climate control regime.Abatement of greenhouse gas emissions is in the nature of a public good, since it affects everyone in the world, with the usual properties. One way to obtain a global public good is to set up an institution to buy it, with the nations of the world contributing to the cost according to whatever sharing arrangements make political sense. In current work, I suggest a way to exploit this approach to limiting accumulations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For me, the most exciting part of this project is figuring out rules that serve policy objectives.But there is also a simulation side – who would pay what to whom and how much abatement would take place under various versions of the approach – which I am working on now.
I continue to work actively with Klaus Keller, now in the Geosciences Department at Penn State. We have mostly used variants of the Nordhaus “integrated assessment” model of climate change to explore the implications of possible abrupt climate change for optimal policy, where optimality is defined as in optimal economic growth models.This structure allows us to look at a variety of policy-relevant phenomena, including technological change and learning.
My work on climate and energy policy has come to be embedded in Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), funded by BP and Ford Motor Company. Although it has many components, the objective is basically to see whether one could not “solve” the climate problem by a combination of extracting carbon from fossil fuel and sequestering it somewhere and using the hydrogen as the main energy carrier.
Also in the environmental area, although less directly connected to the cluster of CMI interests, is joint work I am pursuing with Denise Mauzerall. We are trying to model the damage done by power plant emitters of nitric oxides and small particles in the northeastern United States. The hard part of this project consists in data- and computation-intensive work with atmospheric simulation models.
Sampling of some recent work in the STEP domain:
"Preserving the Ocean Circulation:Implications for Climate Policy," (with Klaus Keller, François M. M. Morel and Kelvin Tan), Climatic Change, (LVII (1-2)) 2000, pp. 17-43.
“On the Uses of Benefit-Cost Reasoning in Choosing Policy Toward Global Climate Change,” in Paul R. Portney and John P. Weyant, eds., Discounting and Intergenerational Equity, Washington, DC:Resources for the Future, 1999, pp. 37-44.
Manuscripts in Progress
“Uncertain Climate Thresholds and Economic Optimal Growth” (with Klaus Keller and Benjamin M. Bolker); under revision for the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.
"The Environmental Kuznets Curve:Exploring A Fresh Specification" (with Rebecca Schlieckert and Stephen H. Shore ) NBER Working Paper No. 8001, Cambridge, MA:National Bureau of Economic Research, November 2000; also CESifo Working Paper Series 367, CESifo, Munich, November 2000; under revision for Topics in Economic Analysis & Policy.
"Global Warming Potentials:A Cost-Effectiveness Approach" (with Klaus Keller).
“Improving on Kyoto:Greenhouse Gas Control as the Purchase of a Global Public Good.”
“Detecting A Potential Collapse of the North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation: Implications for the Design of an Ocean Observation System” (with Curtis Deutsch, Matthew G. Hall and Klaus Keller).
“Carbon Dioxide Sequestration:When and How Much?” (with Klaus Keller and Matt Hall).
“The Time Path of Carbon Taxes and the Economics of Sequestration:Insights from Hotelling-Style Analysis.”