Motivation and background: The distributive effects (‘incidence’) of environmental policies are becoming increasingly important for the political feasibility of environmental policies addressing e.g. climate change or biodiversity loss. The protest of the yellow vests that stopped Macrons petrol tax due to the expected distributional consequences are a prominent example. Also in Germany the incidence of environmental policies such as the coal exit, a pesticide tax or a land value tax is of high concern in public debates. The need for stringent environmental policies comes at a time where many countries of the world have become becoming increasingly unequal in the distribution of income and wealth. In Germany for example, the Gini index of disposable income increased from 0.25 in the 1980s to 0.293 in 2015. Therefore, the acceptance and political feasibility of environmental policies depends not only on their aggregate costs, but also on their distributional effects. On the global stage the trends are slightly different, but the challenge remains the same. Global income inequality has fallen over the last decades but the impact of fundamental global environmental changes caused by human action will have increasingly strong distributional effects not only within but also between countries. Therefore, also the (economic) resources for adaptation and mitigation strategies against climate change must be distributed within and between countries. While economics as a discipline has focused mainly on efficiency in the past, policy makers are frequently more concerned with distributive effects and justice. In this course, we aim at learning and extending state-of-the-art environmental economics methods to analyze, understand and manage the distributional implications of environmental policies and enable students to apply these to real world cases.
Aims and scope: In this course, we will study the multifaceted relationships between inequality and environmental policy. The course starts with a series of lectures on inequality, distribute justice and environmental policy instruments. Thereby students will be encouraged and supported to stepwise develop their own project. This could be for instance an analysis of the distributive effects of the diesel car ban in German cities, pesticide taxes, the German coal exit or energy turn, house prices in urban centers or biodiversity loss. Further topics include the distribution of risks related to climate change, macroeconomic consequences of environmental policies or multilateral action against climate change in an unequal world. Students will present sketches for their projects early on. In the following seminar weeks student have time to work on their project under the support by the lectures. Finally, in a two days block course students will present their project in a scientific conference style and mutually review their papers.