Nobel prize-winning economists urge President Obama to address CO2 emissions from aviation
Nobel Prize-Winning Economists Urge President Obama to Address Carbon Emissions from Aviation
March 14, 2013 (WWF USA press release)
by Chris Conner
Unregulated carbon emissions from the aviation sector currently are a large and growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global climate change.
The open letter states that: “Pricing carbon in the aviation sector will incentivize appropriate investments and changes in operations that would reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. If climate change is to be slowed appreciably at tolerable cost, it is wise to use the market to provide incentives for individuals and firms to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.”
Below — Full Text of the Letter:
March 14, 2013
President Obama White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC
Dear President Obama,
One year ago we wrote to you to implore you to support, or at least to stop opposing, the European Union’s innovative efforts to place a price on carbon from aviation through the emissions trading system (EU ETS). Since that time, Europe has suspended enforcement of its law for one year, and you have signed Public Law 112-200 into law, which directs appropriate officials of the U.S. government to use their authority “to conduct international negotiations to pursue a worldwide approach to address aircraft emissions, including the environmental impact of aircraft emissions.”
Over the next eight months, your Administration may play a strong and constructive role in designing an effective mechanism to reduce aviation emissions and in finalizing an agreement within International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on such a mechanism in time for the General Assembly in September 2013. The next High Level Group meeting of ICAO will take place later this month, on March 25-27. Representatives of the State Department and the Department of Transportation can use this opportunity to negotiate and support a global agreement that uses market-based measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation effectively and efficiently. This agreement should take the form of a global market-based measure that promises to reduce emissions at the least cost to industry.
Good economic policy forces those who pollute to pay for the damage they do. Pricing carbon in the aviation sector will incentivize appropriate investments and changes in operations that would reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. If climate change is to be slowed appreciably at tolerable cost, it is wise to use the market to provide incentives for individuals and firms to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. In economic terms, the emission of these pollutants meets the classic definition of an externality-the price that individuals and firms face for emitting these pollutants is substantially lower than the social cost imposed by the pollution. Because emissions are not priced, the world is wastefully using up a scarce resource, the earth’s ability to safely absorb greenhouse gas emissions. Our selfish inaction pushes increased costs onto future generations, and dangerously increases the probability of extreme events with major impacts on their welfare.
While we recognize the barriers to a uniform global price on all carbon emissions, pricing emissions in the aviation sector via ICAO would be a good start. Absent such an agreement in ICAO this year, U.S. airlines will face a growing patchwork of international regulations and compliance costs, while aviation emissions will continue to rise and contribute to dangerous climate change. Action this year is highly desirable. The ICAO Assembly only meets every three years, the EU ETS is only suspended for one year, and the unpriced flow of carbon emission into the atmosphere is increasing the risks to society every day.
By proposing a global market based measure, the Administration will be implementing Public Law 112-200, resolving tensions with some of our closest allies, and appropriately using market forces to efficiently address the threat of climate change. We urge you to immediately advance a US proposal for a global market based measure for aviation. In the long run it will be in aviation’s interest, as well as that of all society, to use the price mechanism to efficiently allocate over time the uncertain remaining capacity of the atmosphere to safely absorb emissions.
Kenneth Arrow, Ph.D. 1972 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Joan Kenney Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Stanford University
Joseph Stiglitz, Ph.D. 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Professor of Economics, Columbia University
Eric Maskin, Ph.D. 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Roger Myerson, Ph.D. 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, University of Chicago
Al Roth, Ph.D. 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics, Stanford University
Thomas Sargent, Ph.D. 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences William R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Business, New York University
William F. Sharpe, Ph.D. 1990 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences STANCO 25 Professor of Finance, Emeritus, Stanford University
Christopher Sims, Ph.D. 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences John F. Sherrerd ’52 University Professor of Economics, Princeton University
Frank Ackerman, Ph.D. Senior Economist Synapse Energy Economics Cambridge, MA
Patrick Bolton, Ph.D. David Zalaznick Professor of Business Columbia Business School, Columbia University
Mark Carhart, Ph.D. CIO and Partner, Kepos Capital, LP
Varadarajan V. Chari, Ph.D. Professor of Economics Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute, University of Minnesota
Lawrence J. Christiano, Ph.D. Alfred W. Chase Professor of Economics Northwestern University
John Cochrane, Ph.D. AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, University of Chicago
Pierre Collin-Dufresne, Ph.D. Caron Family Professor of Business, Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School, Columbia University
Kent Daniel, Ph.D. Professor of Finance Columbia Business School, Columbia University
Darrell Duffie, Ph.D. Dean Witter Distinguished Professor of Finance, Stanford University
Martin Eichenbaum, Ph.D. Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Economics Northwestern University
Christian Gollier, Ph.D. Director, Toulouse School of Economics Program Director, Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk (CEAR) at Georgia State University.
Lawrence Goulder, Ph.D. Shuzo Nishihara Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics Stanford University
Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Ph.D. Professor of Economics University of California, Berkeley
Michael Hannemann, Ph.D. Julie A. Wrigley Chair in Sustainability, School of Sustainability and Department of Economics, W.P. Carey School of Business Arizona State University
Lars Peter Hansen, Ph.D. David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor University of Chicago
Dale Jorgenson, Ph.D. Samuel W. Morris University Professor Harvard University
Patrick Kehoe, Ph.D. Frenzel Professor of International Economics University of Minnesota
Robert Litterman, Ph.D. Partner, Kepos Capital LP Former Head of Risk Management, Goldman Sachs
Deborah Lucas, Ph.D. Sloan Distinguished Professor of Finance Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Scott Richard, Ph.D. Practice Professor of Finance The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Jose Scheinkman, Ph.D. Theodore A Wells ‘29 Professor of Economics Princeton University
Richard Schmalensee, Ph.D. Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management Director of the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research Massachusetts Institute of Technology
George Tauchen, Ph.D. W. H. Glasson Professor of Economics and Finance, Duke University
Jean Tirole, Ph.D. Visiting Professor Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
There is a lot more about the ETS at EU Emissions Trading System
and news stories about the ETS at EU ETS News Stories