carbon_11_13 - Carbon Geography: The Political Economy of...

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Carbon Geography: The Political Economy of Congressional Support for Legislation Intended to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production 1 Michael I. Cragg The Brattle Group Yuyu Zhou Purdue University Kevin Gurney Purdue University Matthew E. Kahn UCLA and NBER November 2009 Abstract Stringent regulation for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions will impose different costs across geographical regions. Low-carbon, environmentalist states, such as California, would bear less of the incidence of such regulation than high-carbon Midwestern states. Such anticipated costs are likely to influence Congressional voting patterns. This paper uses several geographical data sets to document that conservative, poor areas have higher per-capita carbon emissions than liberal, wealthier areas. Representatives from such areas are shown to have much lower probabilities of voting in favor of greenhouse gas emissions reduction legislation. 1 We thank Lucas Davis, Frank Graves, Gib Metcalf, Dean Murphy and Jason Snyder for useful comments, and especially Jehan DeFonseka, Sin Han Lo, and Jessica Cameron for their research input. The views expressed in this paper, however, are strictly those of the authors and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of The Brattle Group, Inc, its clients, or UCLA.
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Introduction Faced with ongoing world population growth and per-capita income growth, the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could double over the next 50 years. 2 However, a severe free rider problem arises as GHG mitigation is a global public good, (Sunstein 2007). With the last century’ dramatic increases in GHG and the projected continuing rises, scientists are calling for a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. “Very roughly, stabilization at 500 ppm requires that emissions be held on average near the present level of seven billion tons of carbon per year over the next 50 years, even though they are currently on course to more than double.” 3 Around the world, governments are engaging in GHG emissions control in one form or another. For a number of years, the European Union has imposed GHG controls on energy production. Over the last couple of years, the U.S. Congress has voted on several pieces of legislation with the direct intent of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The June 2009 vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act is the most well known. Such legislation will have differential effects across income groups and across geographical regions. Concerns about the incidence of GHG emissions reduction costs have hampered passage of comprehensive reform. Our paper contributes to the recent literature examining the likely incidence effects of carbon emissions mitigation legislation. Recent research on carbon emissions regulation has focused on which income groups will bear the costs of the regulation. 4
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carbon_11_13 - Carbon Geography: The Political Economy of...

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