Copenhagen Consensus on Climate
Advice for Policymakers

In 2009, the Copenhagen Consensus Center commissioned new research on the economics and feasibility of different responses to global warming, and then used Nobel Laureate economists to evaluate that research and identify the best and worst ways to counter this global challenge.

Much of the world's current focus is on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, but there are many ways to go about fixing the climate. The optimal policy response will combine an array of responses in a way that creates the biggest impact for the available money.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center commissioned top climate economists to write research papers that each examine the benefits and costs of one response to global warming. Eight sets of authors looked at the following topics: climate engineering, carbon mitigation, forestry, black carbon, methane, adaptation, technology-led policy response, technology transfers.

A second set of papers provided a peer review of the analyses and assumptions used, to ensure that a range of expert perspectives was heard.

The research papers, available at www.fixtheclimate.com, are being published in full by Cambridge University Press in 2010. An Expert Panel of five world-class economists--including three recipients of the Nobel Prize--met in September 2009 to consider the research papers, and form conclusions about which solution to climate change is the most promising. The Expert Panel comprised: Finn E Kydland (Nobel Laureate), Thomas C Schelling (Nobel Laureate), Vernon L Smith (Nobel Laureate), Nancy L Stokey (Frederick Henry Prince Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago), and Jagdish Bhagwati (University Professor at Columbia University). They were asked to answer the question:

If the global community wants to spend up to, say, $250 billion per year over the next 10 years to diminish the adverse effects of climate changes, and to do the most good for the world, which solutions would yield the greatest net benefits?

After scrutinizing the 21 research papers, the Expert Panel agreed upon a prioritized list showing the most--and least--effective ways of reining in temperature increases. They concluded that the most effective use of resources would be to invest in:

  • Researching solar radiation management technology;
  • A technology-led policy response to global warming that is designed to develop green technology faster;
  • Researching carbon storage technology;

In the Advice for Policymakers publication, the authors go a step further, by outlining the arguments for investment in each of the Expert Panel's top-rated proposals. These papers provide a timely and useful contribution to discussion about the best responses to global warming.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center

The Copenhagen Consensus Center is a global thinktank based in Denmark that publicizes the best ways for governments and philanthropists to spend aid and development money.

The Center commissions and conducts new research and analysis into competing spending priorities. In particular it focuses on the international community's efforts to solve the world's biggest challenges.

Click here to read the full report as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Lee Lane is a resident fellow and codirector of of the geoengineering project at AEI.

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