Global Experiences and the Korean Perspective
KDI/EWC series on Economic Policy
Edited by Chin Hee Hahn, Sang-Hyop Lee and Kyoung-Soo Yoon
Chapter 5: The Political Economy of Climate Change
Lawrence Rothenberg From a policy analytic perspective, in many respects the solution to climate change is straightforward: the producers of greenhouse gases must internalize the costs of their actions through implementation of an efficient policy instrument. Yet, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continue rising at alarming rates. It can be argued that political economic issues are a major component of the explanation for this contrast. Indeed, political economic issues constitute something close to a “perfect storm,” where a multitude of problematic factors come together, so that producing an effective international solution to global warming is extraordinarily daunting. Jointly, the nature of the problem, the distribution of costbearers and beneficiaries among nation-states and generations, domestic policy decisionmaking incentives, and monitoring and enforcement issues present a formidable obstacle to dealing with global warming. Even given a post-Kyoto international agreement incorporating the United States and developing nation-states, there will be a host of questions about whether the agreement will be approved and implemented and whether it, and any subsequent agreements, will be sufficient. While global warming’s potentially cataclysmic consequences have mobilized many voices and interests, the political economic pressures to do little must be overcome. THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CLIMATE CHANGE When scholars discuss the political economy of environmental policy, it is typically with respect to choices over policy instruments in advanced industrial economies—notably whether decisionmakers are inclined to choose relatively efficient market-based price or quantity instruments (and which type and with what specific provisions) or to adopt comparatively costly command and...
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