Nobel economics: two American award-winning for their work on the climate

Nobel d’économie: deux Américains primés pour leurs travaux sur le climat

STOCKHOLM — Allier, innovation, climate and economy for more growth to green : the 50th Nobel prize in economics was awarded on Monday to Americans William Nordhaus, and Paul Romer, who have described the virtues and harmful effects of economic activity on the climate.

Favourites for the Nobel for many years, the colauréats “have developed methods that respond to challenges among the most fundamental and pressing of our time : to combine long-term sustainable growth of the global economy and well-being of the planet,” said the royal Swedish Academy of sciences.

Their work are based on those of the keynesian Robert Solow, Nobel Prize in economics in 1987 for his work on the impact of technical progress on growth.

The announcement of the Nobel coincides with the publication of a report alarmist of experts of the UN climate calling for change “unprecedented” to limit global warming.

Attached to the phone by the Academy, William Nordhaus, has denounced “the disastrous policies of the administration Trump”, which has decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate, in June 2017.

“This degree of hostility to the United States vis-à-vis environmental policies and climate is an anomaly,” he said later, during a press conference organized at Yale (northeast United States).

“All I can do is hope that we were going through all that [the administration Trump] without much damage,” said the university during the press briefing, shifted to allow him to give his course in macroeconomics usual Monday morning, that he had refused to cancel.

Paul Romer, a researcher at the age of 62 years and former chief economist of the world Bank, is known for having theorized “endogenous growth” as early as 1986, showing how innovation and technical progress and significant participation in the growth model, in the research of William Nordhaus, the green innovation and to the idea of sustainable growth.

He highlighted the role of economic forces and regulations in the “inclination” of companies to innovate. “There are many who think that protecting the environment is so difficult and expensive to implement that they prefer to ignore the problem or deny its existence,” said the Academy Mr. Romer, now a teacher at the Stern School of Business New York university — which was first thought to be a call not desired when the Academy contacted him.

“You have a right to your opinion, but not your own facts”, he stated during a press conference held in New York. “I didn’t want to, but I accept it”, he explained, with a smile, to have responded to the representative of the Nobel committee who called in the morning.

After passing through the universities of Rochester (New York), Chicago and Berkeley (California), Paul Romer joined the university of New York in 2011 to work on the urbanization and the growth of cities.

“The moment I was happy, that is when I asked if anyone else had received the prize” and learned that it was Mr. Nordhaus, continued Paul Romer, “because Bill is a colleague and a great person”.

His fellow countryman William Nordhaus, age 77, a professor at Yale university, has specialized in the research of economic consequences of global warming.

It was the first, in the years 90, to model the link between economic activity and climate by combining the theories and experience learned from the physics, chemistry and economics, explained to the jury Nobel.

These works are now widely accepted and are used to predict or quantify the consequences of climate policies, for example the carbon tax.

Global warming

The awarding of the Nobel prize in economics coincides with the publication of a 400-page report by the experts of the UN climate change (IPCC), which exposes the many effects already at work, and in particular the threat of runaway beyond 1.5 °C warming (relative to preindustrial levels) : heat waves, species extinctions, destabilization of the polar ice caps, the source of rising oceans in the long term. “We can really make substantial progress to protect the environment without sacrificing sustainable growth,” said Paul Romer.

William Nordhaus, recalled on Monday that, for him, it was necessary to give the economic agents, whether individuals or businesses, incentives to adopt behaviours that are virtuous in environmental terms.

For the experts in climate, CO2 emissions need to drop drastically before 2030 (- 45 % by 2030) and the world achieve a ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050 (in other words, it must cease to put in the atmosphere more CO2 than we can’t remove it), to stay at 1.5 °C.

“The measures we need to take would not have been so difficult if we had started sooner,” said William Nordhaus, who advocates for a carbon tax, uniform and imposed on all countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Recalcitrant countries who do not want to join this “club climate” would be sanctioned by customs barriers, for example.

The last-born of Nobel this year celebrates its 50 years. Created in 1968 to celebrate the 300 years of the Bank of Sweden, it is the most prestigious award for a researcher in economics.

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