Triple Crisis blogger Frank Ackerman co-authored the following working paper the Stockholm Environment Institute on climate policy’s unevenly distributed costs and benefits and whether climate policy should be based on economic efficiency or equity.
Comparing climate strategies: Economic optimization versus equitable burden-sharing
Climate change is the ultimate global public good (or public bad): the severity of the problem depends on total world emissions, so anyone’s greenhouse gas emissions affect everyone. The impacts, however, are unevenly distributed, often falling most heavily on the hottest and poorest countries. The capacity to deal with the problem may be even more unequally distributed, since the response requires significant investments in mitigation and adaptation.
Thus the discussion of climate policy naturally includes a focus on questions of international equity. In order to reach agreement on coordinated global action to address this global externality, some agreement on burden-sharing is necessary. In only slightly oversimplified terms, how much of the global cost of climate protection should rich and poor countries pay?