23 February 2023: 'A radical climate policy is achievable and affordable' - Rick van der Ploeg
Rick van der Ploeg (Research Director of Oxford Centre for Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, Oxford University; Professor ‘Environmental Economics’, University of Amsterdam).
Thursday 23 February, 17.30 – 19.00
Promotiezaal, KU Leuven, Naamsestraat 22, 3000 Leuven
The speaker will be briefly introduced by Reinhilde Veugelers (LIAS, FEB KU Leuven) who will also moderate the discussion afterwards. The discussion will be opened with a response by Jos Delbeke (LINES, KU Leuven).

The consequences of climate change are becoming clearer year by year, and no one doubts the need for more radical climate policies. However, which measures guarantee the most impact? To estimate the impact of policy measures, 'integrated assessment models' are traditionally used. These are mathematical models based on which one calculates the costs and benefits of the policy to be implemented, assuming that greenhouse gas emissions will increase at the same rate as the growth of the economy, and that different emission levels will not be affected by that policy. In this sense, these models do not take into account that actors causing emissions may change their behaviour as a function of the behavioural changes of actors surrounding them (‘peer effects’); nor the fact that the efficiency of new techniques may change as the scale of output will change (‘returns to scale’) nor with the fact that as people and companies gain experience with new technology, they will apply that technology more and more efficiently and productively (‘learning by doing’); nor with the fact that the policy to be implemented can also bring about a positive change in the way companies, governments and individuals interact (‘networks’). Moreover, traditional climate policy focuses mainly on one specific policy instrument: carbon pricing. This is an instrument that ensures that carbon emissions have to be paid for, for instance through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. However, focusing unilaterally on carbon pricing is not efficient because other policy options such as subsidising renewable energy, generating revenue through recycling or reducing carbon emissions through climate finance are then underused. Moreover, on a global scale, very little progress has been made in implementing carbon pricing.

Because there are different conditions in the economic field in which the relationship between a number of factors exert an impact on the climate, social and technological interventions can encourage a tilt in the desired direction. Rick van der Ploeg proposes a policy that triggers tipping points in various domains in order to radically accelerate the green transition. At the invitation of LIAS, Van der Ploeg will present the proposals he worked out with Tony Venables for the World Bank that point the way to a more effective climate policy.


17.30 Introduction Reinhilde Veugelers
17.35 Lecture Rick van der Ploeg
18.15 Response Jos Delbeke
18.30 Q&A


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A healthy public debate about important societal challenges requires a common and scientifically sound basis.

Bart Pattyn

Co-Chair LIAS and member Board LIAS Foundation