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Studies for Friends of The Earth

Frank Ackerman and Liz Stanton work closely with the Friends of the Earth – England, Wales and Northern Ireland., a chapter of the international grassroots organization that challenges the current model of economic and corporate globalization, and promotes solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies.

“Out of the Shadows:  What’s Behind DEFRA’s New Approach to the Price of Carbon,” by Elizabeth A. Stanton and Frank Ackerman. July, 2008.

In 2007, the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) established a “shadow price” for carbon emissions for internal decision making; the shaky foundations of that shadow price are the subject of this critique.  The report addresses logical, technical, and ethical issues to show that the DEFRA methodology is fundamentally flawed.  The conclusion sets out policy recommendations, including a brief description of a different methodology that could be used to develop an ethical and efficient UK carbon price.

“Generated User Benefits and the Heathrow Expansion:  Understanding Consumer Surplus,” by Elizabeth A. Stanton and Frank Ackerman. July, 2008.

This report responds to the decision of the UK Department for Transportation (DfT) to expand Heathrow Airport, a decision that was based on DfT’s forecasts of the costs and benefits of the expansion. The use of the technical concept of consumer surplus threatens to conceal the underlying reality: DfT minimizes concerns about carbon emissions and other environmental impacts, and forecasts that a bigger airport must be better, simply because so many people will enjoy flying more. DfT also did not consider alternatives such as improved ground transportation, which will look much better if oil prices remain high.

“Critique of Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Alternative Approaches to Decision-Making,” by Frank Ackerman. January, 2008.

This report argues that cost-benefit analysis is a biased procedure, and should not be used for decisions about protection of human health and the environment.  It was produced for Friends of the Earth as part of its campaign in support of the UK Climate Change Bill.  The report reviews the flaws in cost-benefit analysis, describes alternative approaches, presents case studies of waste management and airport expansion policies, and concludes with suggestions for policy makers.

"Debating Climate Economics: The Stern Review vs. Its Critics," by Frank Ackerman. July, 2007.

This report reviews the controversies around the Stern Review, the UK government study of the economics of climate change; Stern expressed alarm at the impending climate damages that will result from business as usual, and presented novel economic arguments endorsing prompt and vigorous action.  The report concludes that there is more support for Stern’s analysis than for his conservative critics, and finds that criticism could more accurately be pointed in the opposite direction: if anything, Stern understates the urgency of the climate problem, and misses some of the strongest arguments for immediate action.

Climate Change - the Costs of Inaction, by Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton.
October, 2006.

This report demonstrates that the cost of allowing global temperatures to increase by two degrees or more above pre-industrial levels will run into trillions of dollars, while the environmental and social costs will be incalculable. It was produced by Frank Ackerman and Liz Stanton for The Big Ask, Friends of the Earth’s climate campaign in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  The report, which brings together the latest scientific and economic thinking on climate change, highlights the enormous costs that would result if governments fail to act to keep temperature increases below two degrees.

News Coverage

"Aviation:  Half price oil, cheaper tickets -- report sees flaws in case for third Heathrow runway"  by Dan Milmo, transport correspondent, The Guardian,  07-23-08

Press Release: Economic case for Heathrow airport flawed, says new report, Friends of the Earth, 07-23-08

Friends of the Earth-UK Press Release, 10-13-06.

“Warming will cost trillions, says report,”
by Larry Elliott, economics editor, The Guardian, 10-13-06. Reprinted by China Daily.

“Costing the earth: How to save the planet and $12 trillion,”
by Michael Harrison and Philip Thornton, The Independent, 10-13-06.

"Climate change inaction will cost trillions - study,"
by Jeremy Lovell, Reuters, published in The Mirror, 10-13-06. This Reuters story also appeared in dozens of other publications worldwide, including ABC News, AOL, Yahoo, PlanetArk, New Zealand Herald,and others.

"Environment: Climate Change Will Cost the World Trillions,"
Talk Ireland Environment, 10-13-06.

"Global Warming: Two Degrees From Catastrophe,"
by Amanda Brown, PA Environment Correspondent, 10-13-06.

"Economists warn climate change will cost world trillions if governments fail to act,"
M2 Presswire, 10-13-06.


Read more about GDAE's work on the Economics of Climate Change



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