The Unequal Burden of Rising Temperatures: How Can Low-Income Countries Cope?

By Sebastian Acevedo, Mico Mrkaic, Evgenia Pugacheva, and Petia Topalova

September 27, 2017

Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish), Français (French), 日本語  (Japanese), Русский (Russian)

The Earth’s temperature is rising. This will shape the economic future of communities across the globe (photo: Leolintang/iStock by GettyImages).

The Earth’s temperature is rising and its climate is changing. The increase in temperatures will shape the economic future of communities and countries across the globe. All countries will feel the direct negative effects from unmitigated climate change. But as our research in Chapter 3 of the October 2017 World Economic Outlook shows, the effects of higher temperatures will not be equal everywhere and the brunt of the adverse consequences will be borne by those who can least afford it—low-income countries.  Continue reading “The Unequal Burden of Rising Temperatures: How Can Low-Income Countries Cope?” »

Chart of the Week: Electric Takeover in Transportation

By IMFBlog

July 31, 2017 

An electric car recharges at a meter in London: The UK is the latest country to announce plans to end fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2040 (photo: Sasha Fox Walters/iStock by Getty Images)

The switch from horses to automobiles in the 20th century paved the way for the rise of oil-based transportation and energy use. Today, electric vehicle ownership is picking up speed. Greater affordability of electric vehicles will likely steer us away from our current sources of energy for transportation, and toward more environmentally friendly technology. And that can happen sooner than you think.

Our Chart of the Week from a recent IMF working paper shows that the transition away from motor vehicles could happen in the next 10 to 25 years, based on parallel shifts in the 20th century. Patterns observed in the early days of the horse-car transition closely resemble present-day electric vehicle adoption rates. Between 2011 and 2015, the average annual growth rate of electric vehicle ownership was 120 percent. This is, in fact, slightly faster growth than that of motor vehicles during a comparable timeframe in the past. Using the horse-car parallel, the paper forecasts that by 2040 motor vehicles could mostly disappear in advanced economies, and could comprise about a third of the fleet of all cars in emerging market and developing economies. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Electric Takeover in Transportation” »

Carbon Pricing: Good for You, Good for the Planet

By Ian Parry

The time has come to end hand wringing on climate strategy, particularly controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  We need an approach that builds on national self-interest and spurs a race to the top in low-carbon energy solutions. Our findings here at the IMF—that carbon pricing is practical, raises revenue that permits tax reductions in other areas, and is often in countries’ own interests—should strike a chord at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York next week. Let me explain how.

Ever since the 1992 Earth Summit, policymakers have struggled to agree on an international regime for controlling emissions, but with limited success. Presently, only around 12 percent of global emissions are covered by pricing programs, such as taxes on the carbon content of fossil fuels or permit trading programs that put a price on emissions. Reducing CO2 emissions is widely seen as a classic “free-rider” problem. Why should an individual country suffer the cost of cutting its emissions when the benefits largely accrue to other countries and, given the long life of emissions and the gradual adjustment of the climate system, future generations?

Continue reading “Carbon Pricing: Good for You, Good for the Planet” »

Too Much At Stake: Moving Ahead with Energy Price Reforms

By Ian Parry

(Versions in Español中文, 日本語Français, and Русский)

Energy plays a critical role in the functioning of modern economies. At the same time, it’s at the heart of many of today’s pressing environmental concerns—from global warming (predicted to reach around 3–4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century) and outdoor air pollution (causing over three million premature deaths a year) to traffic gridlock in urban centers. In a new IMF book, we look at precisely how policymakers can strike the right balance between the substantial economic benefits of energy use and its harmful environmental side effects.

These environmental impacts have macroeconomic implications, and with its expertise in tax design and administration, the IMF can offer sound advice on how energy tax systems can be designed to ensure energy prices fully reflect adverse environmental impacts.

We do this by developing a sensible and reasonably simple way to quantify environmental damages and applying it, in over 150 countries, to show what these environmental damages are likely to imply for efficient taxes on coal, natural gas, gasoline, and road diesel. For example, the human health damages from air pollution are calculated by estimating how many people are exposed to power plant and vehicle emissions in different countries and how this exposure increases the risk of various (e.g., heart and lung) diseases. Although there are some inescapable controversies in this approach (e.g., concerning the valuation of global warming damages or how people in different countries value health risks), the methodology is flexible enough to easily accommodate alternative viewpoints—it is a starting point for debate, not a final point of arrival.

Continue reading “Too Much At Stake: Moving Ahead with Energy Price Reforms” »

Support the People, Not Energy in the Middle East and North Africa

Masood AhmedBy Masood Ahmed

(Versions in عربي, 中文, Français, 日本語Русский, and Español)

Of all the regions in the world, the Middle East and North Africa region stands out as the one that relies the most on generalized energy subsidies. In energy-rich countries, governments provide subsidies to their populations as a way of sharing the natural resource wealth. In the region’s energy-importing countries, governments use subsidies to offer people some relief from high commodity prices, especially since social safety nets are often weak.

The question is: does this well-intended social protection policy represent the most efficient way to channel aid to the most vulnerable? The answer is no!

Continue reading “Support the People, Not Energy in the Middle East and North Africa” »

Global Crisis — Top Links from the IMF for Economics and Finance

Top economic and financial links from the IMF for June 2012 on the global economic crisis and beyond.

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