Economic gains from global cooperation in fulfilling climate pledges

Publication in Energy Policy by Sneha Thube ’16 (Economics) et al

Co2, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon, Oxygen, The Atmosphere
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

My paper “Economic gains from global cooperation in fulfilling climate pledges” (with Ruth Delzeitab and Christian H.C.A. Henning) is now available online.

Paper Abstract

Mitigation of CO2 emissions is a global public good that imposes different regional economic costs. We assess the distributional effects of cooperative versus non-cooperative CO2 markets to fulfil the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), considering different CO2 permit allocation rules in cooperative markets. We employ a global computable general equilibrium model based on the GTAP-9 database and the add-on GTAP-Power database. Our results show the resulting winners and losers under different policy scenarios with different permit allocation rules. We see that in 2030, we can obtain gains as high as $106 billion from global cooperation in CO2 markets. A cooperative CO2 permit market with equal per capita allowances results in considerable monetary transfers from high per capita emission regions to low per capita emission regions. In per capita terms, these transfers are comparable to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) transfers. We also disaggregate the mitigation costs into direct and indirect shares. For the energy-exporting regions, the largest cost component is unambiguously the indirect mitigation costs.

Conclusions

With regard to the initial NDCs, aggregate economic gains from jointly achieving the NDCs are $106bn (i.e. 60% of costs with unilateral action) in 2030. Mobilizing cooperation via Article 6 is important.

When the costs are disaggregated into direct (i.e. domestic mitigation) and indirect (i.e. due to changes in international markets) within the energy-exporters (e.g., Russia, Canada, Middle East and North Africa) the dominant cost share arises from indirect costs.

We also model a scenario using where regional allowances allocated in proportion to the regional population (aka Carbon Egalitarianism) within a global ETS. This approach addresses global equity issues, aligns incentives of all countries & eliminates free-riding problem.

Large financial transfers (~$114bn in 2030) are generated via the carbon markets are leads to welfare improvements in the developing regions. These transfers are comparable to the per capita ODA received by some countries esp. in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The approach based on per capita emission benchmarking has also been suggested by Dr. Raghuram Rajan

If global justice is considered as a global public good, which similar to GHG mitigation, is underprovided, then the principle of carbon egalitarianism could promisingly combine an additional aspect to welfare, giving an important message for policymakers.

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Sneha Thube ’16 is a researcher at the Kiel Institute for World Economy. She is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Economics.

Extreme Weather and Health Outcomes in Women: Evidence from Colombia and Peru

Economics of Public Policy master project by Melina Aliayi, Manohar Gannavarapu, and André López ’21

A pregnant woman in a warm sweater places her hands on her belly, forming a heart shape with her fingers
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between health outcomes during delivery and extreme temperatures in Colombia and Peru. 

We used geo-coded household survey data from the Demographic and Health Survey Program (DHS), allowing us to construct an index accounting for the incidence of pregnancy complications in women during labor. Matching these health outcomes indicators with monthly-temperature data at a grid-cell level, we find that experiencing extreme temperatures during pregnancy, particularly cold temperatures, increases the probability of suffering pregnancy complications in the case of Colombia. Contrary to majority of the literature on health outcomes and temperature, we find no effect of experiencing extreme high temperatures. Interestingly, we find no significant effects in Peru.

Conclusions

  • We identify that experiencing at least one month of extreme cold temperatures during pregnancy increases the incidence of pregnancy complications by 2.5%.  
  • Shifting the analysis to the trimester level, we find that experiencing extreme cold temperatures during the first and third trimester of pregnancy increases the probability of pregnancy complications. 
  • Furthermore, we find an additional effect by wealth. Being poor increases the probability of experiencing pregnancy complications due to extreme cold temperatures by an additional 5%.

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About the BSE Master’s Program in Economics of Public Policy

Save The Euro Policy: European Debt Crisis and Covid-19 Pandemic

Economics master project by Kadir Özen and Hirotaka Ito ’21

Euro bills and face masks

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

The 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis led to European debt crisis leaving the periphery of euro zone with very high borrowing costs compared to core countries. When Covid-19 Pandemic Crisis hit the economies, monetary policy tools of European Central Bank prevented a similar debt crisis. We identify the underlying factor of the ECB monetary policy that is active during the 2011-2012 debt crisis and Covid-19 Pandemic periods operated through sovereign spreads preventing the contagion of fragmentation risk of euro area. We call this new factor, save-the-euro with which we shed light on the monetary policies of this unusual periods.

Conclusions

  • Identified the new dimension of the ECB Policy, save-the-euro policy, that captures stabilization policy of ECB that works through euro zone sovereign yields
  • This policy addresses euro area fragmentation risk 
  • An expansionary save-the-euro policy leads to a highly statistically significant appreciation of Euro against US dollar: Sharp contrast with the standard textbook treatment
  • Document the reversal of flight-to-safety flows in the euro area

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About the BSE Master’s Program in Economics

Green Agreement in the Electricity Market

An ex-post evaluation of the 2013 Dutch Coal Power Plants Closure Agreement by Ilaria Noviello and Shaun Tey ’21

Smoke stacks
Photo by Andreas Felske on Unsplash

The full title of this project is “Green Agreement in the Electricity Market: An ex-post evaluation of the 2013 Dutch Coal Power Plants Closure Agreement.”

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

There has been much theoretical discussion on whether Green Agreements can be a cost efficient means of improving the sustainability of products, but no empirical studies have been done on what the cost and benefits of past Green Agreements have been. 

In order to provide a substantive contribution to this discussion, we have undertaken an ex-post analysis of an agreement in the Netherlands to close five aging coal power plants in 2016 and 2017. First, we evaluated the ACM’s assumption that the plant closures would result in an increase of the Dutch wholesale electricity price in the Netherlands by undertaking a before-and-after analysis. Second, we examined how the ACM quantification of the benefits deriving from emissions reductions would have changed if it used its same methodology a year after the plants closed (in mid-2018). Third, we considered how the quantification of the benefits would have changed if the ACM used an alternative evaluation technique based on estimating consumers’ willingness to pay for Green Electricity.

Our findings indicate that the ACM was likely incorrect to oppose the agreement to close the coal power plants.

Conclusions

  • The before-and-after analysis indicates that the agreement to close the coal power plants did not result in any increase in the wholesale price of electricity in the Netherlands. This implies that this Green Agreement had no cost, while still producing a benefit of reduced emissions.
  • Our examination of the ACM’s method for quantifying the benefits derived from reduced emissions finds it to be volatile. In particular, due to subsequent changes to the methods used by the Dutch Government for valuing reduced emissions, the benefit of the Closure Agreement would be regarded as far higher if evaluated today. 
  • We find that it is unviable to use an alternative evaluation technique based on estimating consumers’ willingness to pay for Green Electricity.

Our conclusion suggests that those working on ex-ante assessments of Green Agreements should recognise that the volatility of their government’s approach to environmental policy can alter the accuracy of their assessments. As a result of this, regulators should coordinate better across government departments, in order to understand which methodologies are currently subject to scrutiny and could possibly change in the future.

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About the BSE Master’s Program in Competition and Market Regulation

Two Macro alumni publish in the same volume of European Economic Review

Publications by Nicolò Maffei-Faccioli ’15 and Alessandro Ruggieri ’12

The September 2021 volume of the journal European Economic Review includes two publications by alumni of the BSE Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets Program:

Does immigration grow the pie? Asymmetric evidence from Germany

by Nicolò Maffei-Faccioli ’15 (with Eugenia Vella)

We provide empirical evidence suggesting that net migration shocks can have substantial demand effects, potentially acting like positive Keynesian supply shocks. Using monthly administrative data (2006–2019) for Germany in a structural VAR, we show that the shocks stimulate vacancies, wages, house prices, consumption, investment, net exports, and output. Unemployment falls for natives (dominant job-creation effect), driving a decline in total unemployment, while rising for foreigners (dominant job-competition effect). The geographic origin of migrants and the education level of residents matter crucially for the transmission. Overall, the evidence implies that the policy debate should focus on redistributive strategies between natives and foreigners.

(Featured on this blog as a working paper last year)


Twin Peaks: Covid-19 and the labor market

by Alessandro Ruggieri ’12 (with Jake Bradley and Adam Hal Spencer)

This paper develops a choice-theoretic equilibrium model of the labor market in the presence of a pandemic. It includes heterogeneity in productivity, age and the ability to work from home. Worker and firm behavior changes in the presence of the virus, which itself has equilibrium consequences for the infection rate. The model is calibrated to the UK and counterfactual lockdown measures are evaluated. We find a different response in both the evolution of the virus and the labor market with different lockdown policies. A laissez-faire approach results in lives lost and acts as negative shock to the economy. A lockdown policy, absent any other intervention, will reduce the lives lost but increase the economic burden. Consistent with recent evidence, we find that the economic costs from lockdown are most felt by those earning the least. Finally, we introduce a job retention scheme as implemented by the UK Government and find that it spreads the economic hardship more equitably.


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Nicolò and Alessandro are both alumni of the Barcelona School of Economics Master’s Program in Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets. They both got their PhDs from the IDEA Program (UAB and BSE).

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Nicolò Maffei-Faccioli ’15 is a Senior Economist at Norges Bank.

 
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Alessandro Ruggieri ’12 is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham.

Understanding Latent Vector Arithmetic for Attribute Manipulation in Normalizing Flows

Data Science master project by Eduard Gimenez Funes ’21

Five portraits of the same man with different facial expressions

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

Normalizing flows are an elegant approximation to generative modelling. It can be shown that learning a probability distribution of a continuous variable X is equivalent to learning a mapping f from the domain where X is defined to Rn is such that the final distribution is a Gaussian. In “Glow: Generative flow with invertible 1×1 convolutions,” Kingma et al introduced the Glow model. Normalizing flows arrange the latent space in such a way that feature additivity is possible, allowing synthetic image generation. For example, it is possible to take the image of a person not smiling, add a smile, and obtain the image of the same person smiling. Using the CelebA dataset we report new experimental properties of the latent space such as specular images and linear discrimination. Finally, we propose a mathematical framework that helps to understand why feature additivity works.

Conclusions

Generative Models for Deep Fake generation sit in between Engineering, Mathematics and Art. Trial and error is key to finding solutions to these types of problems. Theoretical grounding might only come afterwards. But when it does, it is simply amazing. By experimenting with normalizing flows we found properties of the latent space that have helped us create a mathematical model that explains why feature additivity works.

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About the BSE Master’s Program in Data Science Methodology

The Macroeconomics of Fighting Climate Change

Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets master project by Astrid Esparza Sánchez, Benedikt J. F. Höcherl, and Wei Liam Yap ’21

Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash

The full title of this project is “The Macroeconomics of Fighting Climate Change: Estimating the Impact of Carbon Taxes, Public and Private R&D Investment in Low-Carbon Technologies on the Scandinavian Economy.”

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

The worldwide lockdowns and slowdown of the global economy in the past two years induced a significant overall decrease in CO2 emissions by 8.8% – the largest observed decrease since World War II. In that sense, COVID-19 emphasized the important trade-off between the emissions reductions necessary to fight climate change and economic welfare, which also constitutes a major political stumbling block to introducing policies aimed at halting climate change in normal times.

In order to further our understanding of this trade-off, we evaluate the macroeconomic impact of three policies that are commonly regarded as crucial to meeting national emissions targets:

  • Carbon taxes
  • Public Investment in low-carbon R&D
  • Private Investment in the R&D of low-carbon technologies, proxied by the number of patents for environmentally friendly applications 

In our paper, we develop a novel approach to identifying the long-term impact of these policies using an Structural Vector Autoregression (SVAR) model. We use a Blanchard-Quah long-run identification scheme and a Cholesky short-run identification respectively to  recover a one-standard deviation shock of carbon tax and low-carbon R&D, and investigate their impact on the evolution of GDP, employment and CO2 emissions. In an extension, we include both public and private low-carbon R&D in an SVAR to uncover how public and low-carbon R&D incentivize and complement each other.

Conclusions

We evaluate the effect of carbon taxes, public low-carbon R&D and private low-carbon R&D on GDP, employment and CO2 emissions in Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. We find that carbon taxes do not significantly affect GDP and employment in the long run, but we also do not observe a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. Our results might be shaped by the fact that the first carbon taxes were introduced in 1990 and consequently data is still relatively limited.

Furthermore, our results indicate a significant negative effect of public and private low-carbon R&D on emissions in Denmark and Finland. However, the effect on GDP and employment is ambiguous and depends on the individual country. 

To the best of our knowledge, this is a first empirical indication of the relevance of R&D into low-carbon technologies in reducing CO2 emissions in Northern Europe. 

The implications of our result can fruitfully contribute to the debate about the adequate policy instruments for fighting climate change on at least three dimensions:

  • We find no evidence supporting the political concern that carbon taxes might negatively impact jobs and growth.
  • We provide evidence for the effectiveness of low-carbon R&D – public and private – in reducing CO2 emissions. However, country specific crowding in and crowding out effects of public and private investment in low-carbon technologies should be taken into account when deciding for example on appropriate innovation policies.
  • Our paper underlines the idea that revenues from carbon taxes might potentially be employed for financing low-carbon R&D which in turn could spur long-run, emission free economic growth.

In any case, as for the planet time is of the essence, the Economics profession should focus ever more efforts on understanding the macroeconomics of climate change.

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About the BSE Master’s Program in Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets

The additional costs of living with a disability in the UK

Publication in the European Journal of Health Economics by Lukas Schuelke ’21 (ITFD)

A woman in a wheelchair around Camden street market
Photo: iStock.com/VictorHuang

Last year I worked on the article, “Estimating the additional costs of living with a disability in the United Kingdom between 2013 and 2016,” which was based on my undergraduate dissertation and which just got published in the European Journal of Health Economics.

My co-authors Luke Munford and Marcello Morciano are affiliated with the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester.

Abstract

In the United Kingdom, more than 20% of the population live with a disability. Past evidence shows that being disabled is associated with functional limitations that often cause social exclusion and poverty. Therefore, it is necessary to analyse the connection between disability and poverty. This paper examines whether households with disabled members face extra costs of living to attain the same standard of living as their peers without disabled members. The modelling framework is based on the standard of living approach which estimates the extra income required to close the gap between households with and without disabled members. We apply an ordered logit regression to data from the Family Resources Survey between 2013 and 2016 to analyse the relationship between standard of living, income, and disability, conditional on other explanatory variables. We find that households with disabled members face considerable extra costs that go beyond the transfer payment of the government. The average household with disabled members saw their weekly extra costs continually increase from £293 in 2013 to £326 in 2016 [2020 prices]. Therefore, the government needs to adjust welfare policies to address the problem of extra costs faced by households with disabled members.

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Lukas Schuelke ’21 is a Planning Analyst at Amazon in London, UK. He is an alum of the BSE Master’s in International Trade, Finance, and Development.

Where Does the Money Flow? Understanding Allocations of Post-Epidemic Foreign Aid

ITFD master project by Ashley Do, Nicolas Legrain, Nadine Schüttler, and María Soares de Lima ’21

Two hands cradle a transparent globe
Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine aggregate and cross-sector allocations of foreign aid flows in the aftermath of epidemics and to determine whether latent effects can be observed in the following year.

Using data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Bilateral commitments of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from 2005-2019, we employ an Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) model based on the structural gravity framework to account for spatial interactions between donor and recipient countries.

Our results show that epidemics have a positive and significant effect on bilateral foreign aid across all sectors and that aid to the Humanitarian sector is less conditional on pre-existing relationships than others. Results for latent effects on aid vary by sector.

We further find that isolating epidemics in our analysis suggests that certain diseases prompt a different aid response wherein aid to non-health sectors falls.

Conclusions

We find that epidemics do indeed engender changes in foreign aid behavior.

  • To be specific, epidemics have a positive and significant effect on foreign aid commitments to all sectors. Our results are unable to shed light on the hypothesis of reallocation between sectors. However, they do illustrate that aid to both health-related and non-health-related sectors increases.
  • Aid in this context is also persistent. That is, our results, robust to numerous checks, show that the positive effects of epidemics may be observed not only in the year of the outbreak but also in the following year.
  • By analyzing each disease independently, we further find that certain diseases prompt a different aid response and may suggest the presence of a foreign-aid reallocation due to epidemics.

However, our study does not measure the effectiveness of aid which is necessary for the design of productive policy measures that could save countless lives. Naturally, this presents new opportunities for research and raises important questions regarding the optimal allocation of aid given shocks to global health. That is, does increasing aid to all sectors serve as an effective one-size-fits-all solution? Or would a more efficient policy consist of donors reallocating aid across sectors to account for short and long-term changes in the demand for healthcare caused by an epidemic?

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About the BSE Master’s Program in International Trade, Finance, and Development

Wealth Inequality in the US: the Role of Heterogeneous Returns

Best paper award for Inês Xavier (Economics ’15, UPF PhD ’21)

Paper abstract

Why is wealth so concentrated in the United States? In this paper, I investigate the role of return heterogeneity as a source of wealth inequality. Using household-level data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (1989-2019), I provide new empirical evidence on returns to wealth in the United States, and find that wealthier households earn, on average, higher returns: moving from the 20th to the 99th percentile of the wealth distribution raises the average yearly return from 3.6% to 8.3%. To understand how these return differences shape the distribution of wealth, I introduce realistic return heterogeneity in a partial equilibrium model of household saving behavior. This exercise suggests that considering both earnings and return heterogeneity can fully account for the top 10% wealth share observed in the data (76%), which cannot be explained by earnings differences alone.

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Inês Xavier ’15 (PhD, UPF and BSE) is an Economist at the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She is an alum of the BSE Master’s in Economics.