Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Climate change economists win Nobel prize

Americans William D Nordhaus and Paul M Romer win 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics American duo William Nordhaus and Paul Romer awarded to 2018 Nobel Prize for Economics
Bennie Garza | 10 October, 2018, 15:30

Romer had shown how economic forces govern the willingness of firms to innovate, helping some societies grow many times faster than others.

He said his research had given him hope that people can solve even a problem as hard as a warming planet. Five people have won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences while serving as members of the MIT faculty; another 11 MIT alumni, including Nordhaus, have won the prize.

"Humans are capable of fantastic accomplishments if we set our minds to it", Romer added.

They are honoured in December, on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.

"It's an ingenious pairing", said David Warsh, author of the 2007 book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations about the award. "Nordhaus has been concerned all along with repairing the damage" to the environment, while "Romer has been writing about the means at your disposal" to take on the technological challenge, he added.

The awarding of half of the prize to Nordhaus could not have come at a more appropriate time, as his work was instrumental in our understanding of how climate change would affect us in the years and decades to come.

Romer, who served as chief economist at the World Bank until January 2018, has helped shape the endogenous (from within a system) growth theory, which states that productivity gains can be tied directly to speedy innovation and more investments in workers.

In the 1970s, Nordhaus, already alarmed by the threat of global warming, began working on potential solutions.

Nordhaus has been a prominent advocate of the use of a uniformly applied carbon tax as the best way to put a true cost on the use of burning fossil fuels and so reducing greenhouse gas emissions. His economic approaches to global warming include modeling to determine the efficient path for coping with climate change.

U.S. economists William Nordhaus and Paul Romer yesterday shared the 2018 Nobel Economics Prize for constructing "green growth" models that show how innovation and climate policies can be integrated with economic growth.

Many economists have since endorsed the concept of taxing carbon and using this financial lever to influence societal behavior. "They have also taken macroeconomics to a global scale, to tackle some of the world's biggest problems", the Nobel Prize committee said. Though many developed economies have adopted a carbon tax, the United States has not. "Without him, there wouldn't be such a subject of climate economics".

"His work suggests a key role for the government in protecting the property rights of innovators and subsidizing research".

The IPCC special report Global Warming of 1.5 °C starts with good news: a viable pathway to keep average global temperature rise below 1.5 °C is still open to us.

Whether economics is a genuine science in the sense of the Nobels awarded for accomplishments in medicine, chemistry and physics can be debated; the award often goes to work that has a high level of abstraction.

But an idea - say, a recipe for Swedish meatballs - can be shared and used over and over again, delivering continual economic benefits.



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