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Gernot Wagner
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Gernot Wagner is a senior economist at the Environmental Defense Fund and author of 'But Will the Planet Notice?'

Gernot teaches at Columbia, graduated from both Harvard and Stanford, and blogs at www.gwagner.com. He doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t drive, and knows full well the futility of his personal choices.

Entries by Gernot Wagner

Is Energy Efficiency a Good Thing Even With Rebound?

(1) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 12:38 PM

Co-authored with Inês Azevedo, Kenneth Gillingham, and David Rapson.

Lighting is critical to our livelihoods. Humans have used lighting technology since long before industrialization. For many centuries, this lighting was extremely inefficient, with over 95% of the energy consumed wasted as heat. Recently, the Nobel Prize in...

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Bike If You Can, Fly If You Must -- By All Means, Go

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 11:41 AM

Published on EDF Voices.

Looks like the simmering "climate swerve" may come to a boil on September 21 in New York City for what's billed as the People's Climate March.

Bill McKibben called for it in the Rolling Stone...

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"Risky Business" Stands out in Growing Sea of Climate Reports

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 5:04 PM

This blog post was co-authored by Jonathan Camuzeaux and published on EDF Voices.

Put Republican Hank Paulson, Independent Mike Bloomberg, and Democrat Tom Steyer together, and out comes one of the more unusual -- and unusually impactful -- climate reports.

This year alone has seen a couple of IPCC...

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Cleaner Air Gave Americans a $4,300 Pay Raise

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 4:12 PM

Published on EDF Voices.

Spend too much time with economists, and you'll be convinced that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Life is full of tradeoffs.

Take the Clean Air Act of 1970, for which benefits consistently trump costs to the tune of 30 to 1: $30 in...

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Reality Check: Society Pays for Carbon Pollution and That's No Benefit

(2) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 1:17 PM

This open letter, co-authored by Jeremy Proville and first published on EDF Voices, was written in response to a New York Times article citing Dr. Roger Bezdek's report on "The Social Costs of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits of Carbon."

Dear Dr. Bezdek,

After seeing so many peer-reviewed studiesdocumenting the costs of...

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Why the Cost of Carbon Pollution Is Both Too High and Too Low

(0) Comments | Posted January 24, 2014 | 10:36 AM

From EDF Voices:

Tell someone you are a "climate economist," and the first thing you hear after the slightly puzzled looks subside is, "How much?" Show me the money: "How much is climate change really costing us?"

Here it is: at least $40.

That, of course, isn't the total...

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Uncovering the Real Cost of Carbon

(35) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 6:11 PM

This post was co-authored by Thomas Sterner.

Last week, the Obama Administration released new energy efficiency standards for microwaves, along with an update to the government's official Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) figure. What do those two things have to do with each other? Well, the efficiency standards will help...

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Gross Domestic Product: Grossly Incomplete, But We Can Fix It

(2) Comments | Posted May 17, 2013 | 4:20 PM

Via EDF Voices. This first appeared online in an article posted at ensia.com.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is broken. Robert F. Kennedy said as much in his first major presidential campaign speech. Simon Kuznets, the father of GDP, acknowledged its shortcomings. GDP is an imperfect indicator of human well-being...

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Benefits of Clean Air and Water Dwarf Costs 10 to 1

(4) Comments | Posted May 8, 2013 | 1:16 PM

The Office of Management and Budget is nerd heaven: a bunch of people getting their professional kicks from analyzing federal regulation. This bean counting may sound painfully lacking in glamour, but it's incredibly important. OMB's annual report to Congress on the benefits and costs of all major rules adopted by...

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Follow the Plastic Bag Example, Nudge Polluters to Pay

(15) Comments | Posted May 7, 2013 | 11:40 AM

(This post was first published on EDF Voices.)

Nudge is the best kind of book. It presents the type of head-slappingly obvious solutions to public policy problems that make you wonder why you needed a book to tell you about them in the first place. Place the veggies before...

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Nature: The Rebound Effect Is Overplayed

(0) Comments | Posted January 24, 2013 | 11:32 AM

Trying to put the rebound effect for energy efficiency in its rightful place is like playing a game of wack-a-mole. Predictably every couple of years, someone new discovers the counter-intuitive appeal of showing how more efficient energy policies may lead to more energy use. Wham! Told you there's something wrong...

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Foreign Policy on '10 Problems Obama Could Solve Right Now' Including Global Warming

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2013 | 4:38 AM

When Foreign Policy magazine went looking for 10 problems President Obama "could solve right now," they put global warming on the list. Mind you, "President Obama isn't going to halt the rise of the oceans in his second term." And it'll be tough to do what's necessary, but there are a few...

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Geoengineering: Ignore Economics and Governance at Your Peril

(6) Comments | Posted October 31, 2012 | 4:50 PM

How serious is global warming? Here's one indication: the first rogue entrepreneurs have begun testing the waters on geoengineering, as Naomi Klein laments in her must-read New York Times op-ed.

Sadly, Klein misses two important points.

First, it's not a question of if but when humanity will be compelled...

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Elinor Ostrom and a New Culture in Economics

(1) Comments | Posted June 14, 2012 | 4:09 PM

Elinor Ostrom, the first and only female Nobel Laureate in Economics, died yesterday. Her passion and intellect are legend. She also showed a new path for an entire profession.

Economists typically aren't known for...

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L.A. Bans Plastic Bags, Misses Larger Point

(5) Comments | Posted June 8, 2012 | 4:49 PM

Last month, Los Angeles banned plastic bags. That's good for the environment. Ask any seagull. It's also fairly coercive.

You can already see where this is going: No money in the world can buy plastic bags legally. Bag peddlers get pushed out on the street, start an underground economy,...

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Breaking the "Believe in Climate Science" = "Big Government" Association

(4) Comments | Posted June 7, 2012 | 5:47 PM

Facts are polarizing, and are easily misused. That, in short, is the conclusion of the latest paper by Dan Kahan et al in "The Polarizing Impact of Science Literacy and Numeracy on Perceived Climate Change Risks," expertly reviewed in "Another nail in the coffin of Enlightenment reason" by...

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Naomi Klein Is Half Right About Capitalism vs. the Climate

(20) Comments | Posted December 6, 2011 | 6:35 PM

Naomi Klein is always worth reading. If you haven't seen Capitalism vs. the Climate, go ahead. I'll wait.

Her 10,000-word exposé is well worth the effort. It makes the essential point that addressing climate change means reorganizing how the world does business.

Klein makes the point by arguing that...

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WSJ Argues Against Leveling the Playing Field

(0) Comments | Posted November 22, 2011 | 10:20 AM

What EPA's role is to do is to level the playing field so that pollution costs are not exported to the population but rather companies have to look at the pollution potential of any fuel or any process or any plant or any utility when they're making their investment decisions.
...
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Email Is Too Cheap

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2011 | 11:57 PM

The average time taken to respond to an email is greater, in aggregate, than the time it took to create.

Email is too cheap to send. That, in a nutshell, is why we are all drowning in it. It costs you nothing to add one more person as a recipient.

...
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Build a Cocoon Around Your Kid, Just Don't Open the Window

(1) Comments | Posted November 15, 2011 | 8:12 AM

My wife and I have no car, no TV, and a no-screens policy around our 8-month-old. We carry him around in an organic cotton wrap. His favorite toys are wood, his baby soap is plant-based, his only pacifier is his left...

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