Reducing greenhouse gas emissions helps the economy

Patrick T. Brown, PhD

Potential solutions to climate change are often framed as a tradeoff between reducing our impact on the environment and harming the economy. More specifically, it is thought that we can reduce our climate-change-related impact by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases but that this will inevitably harm the economy by making energy more expensive. Under this framing, it is natural for people to strongly disagree about climate-policy prescriptions since individuals will inevitably diverge in the relative value they place on environmental vs. economic concerns.

However, the issue of whether or not it is in society’s collective best-interest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not as complicated and subjective as the above framing makes it seem. In fact, as long as climate change costs the economy anything (and the cost increases steadily with emissions), then it is in our collective best interest economically to reduce emissions. In other words, you don’t need…

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