Benefits and Costs of the Environment: Copenhagen Consensus 2008
Journal of Environmental Law, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2008
9 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2009 Last revised: 14 Aug 2009
Date Written: January 5, 2009
This paper offers a critical examination of the Copenhagen Consensus, a group of distinguished economists from around the world (including several Nobel Laureates), which, for the second time in four years, has made public its deliberations on how to tackle some of the most daunting challenges facing the world. For the 2008 discussions, the 10 challenges included air pollution, conflicts, diseases, education, global warming, malnutrition and hunger, sanitation and water, subsidies and trade barriers, terrorism, women and development. The economists were given a fictive $75 billion and asked to rank the challenges according to where the money would do the most good. This paper examines the group's findings in relation to the environmental challenges of air pollution, global warming and sanitation and water. The paper argues that the findings are not as controversial or surprising as some critics point out given the benefit/cost remit of the exercise. Instead, the Copenhagen Consensus deserves credit for raising a debate about important issues and highlighting some of the shortfalls inherent in current laws and policies addressing problems of, for instance, global warming.
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