As I sift through material for my environmental economics course (Econ 280) this winter, I have found some very interesting material on the political economy of climate change. Ryan Liazza in the New Yorker walks through the process by which an idea becomes a bill becomes a law — or, in this case, doesn’t become a law. It is difficult to understand environmental economics and policy without knowledge of these tortured dealings, the underlying institutional rules, and that pesky electorate.
Over at the Economix blog, David Leonhardt has been doing yeoman’s work, provides another perspective on the political economics of climate change legislation, looks at what EPA could reasonably do to curb CO2 emission without such enabling legislation, and has a couple of pieces (one here, one here) on so-called clean energy.
I will also use this paper on “carbon geography” to illustrate how economists go about these political economics questions. I don’t think we as economists ever expected serious climate legislation, certainly nothing approaching the types of reductions needed to stabilize atmospheric concentrations.