Sharing the Burden of Saving the Planet
Global Social Justice for Sustainable Development - Working Paper #150
This paper focuses on one question which is critical to reaching a global agreement on emissions reductions: how the burden of saving the planet should be shared, between rich countries and poor. There is no question that there will have to be global reductions. That is not the question. The question is upon whom should the incidence of the cost of adjustment be imposed? Avoiding global warming is a global public good. Standard public finance theory provides clear guidance, both about how to achieve such reductions in the most efficient way, and how the burden should be shared. Clearly, the brunt of the burden (under virtually any welfare criterion) should lay with the advanced industrial countries. Indeed, these standard ideas suggest that even the approach often taken by developing countries—that there should be equal emissions permits per capita—puts an excessive burden on developing countries.
About the Author
Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD)
Joseph E. Stiglitz is co-President of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, and Chairman of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. He is University Professor at Columbia, teaching in its Economics Department, its Business School, and its School of International and Public Affairs. He chaired the UN Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, created in the aftermath of the financial crisis by the President of the General Assembly. He is former Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank and Chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2001.