Carbon rights and economic development

Even in the absence of complete scientific consensus on the magnitude, timing, and regional distribution of the effects of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions, it is worthwhile to examine potential policy responses to the prospect of climate change. An internalization of the greenhouse externality based on property rights in carbon emissions offers the potential to promote rather than retard worldwide economic development. As the world economy moves in a market‐oriented direction, the arbitrary wealth transfers associated with a carbon‐rights distribution plan would dissipate within the time span required for planetary climate management. Thus, the present world situation may provide a new opportunity to reconcile the imperatives of global environmental protection and the promotion of sustained economic growth.

Stephen J. Decanio
Published in: Critical Review
1992 6(2-3) Pages 389-410