How should the Fed deal with climate change?

Using a wider range of evidence from both the United States and Europe, two University of Connecticut political scientists, Lyle Scruggs ...


Using a wider range of evidence from both the United States and Europe, two University of Connecticut political scientists, Lyle Scruggs and Salil Benegal, find that a decline in climate concerns during this period was significantly due to more unfavorable economic conditions, which heightened concerns about more immediate issues. In times of scarcity, people tend to think less about policies with long-term benefits.

“The state of the economy affects how people feel about the future versus the present,” Professor Scruggs said. “Historically, climate change has fallen on the same side as many other environmental issues, where people’s responses tend to grow and decrease with the economy.”

If a central bank can achieve consistent prosperity, this research suggests, it can change some political dynamics on aggressive climate action. Prosperity could support branches of government that have more explicit responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases, building clean energy capacity, or helping communities adapt to more extreme weather conditions.

Not everyone who studies public opinion on the climate agrees.

Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Climate Change Communication Program, attributes the decline in concerns about climate change in the early 2010s not to a weak economy, but to growing political polarization and a pivot of conservative media towards climate change denial.

“What we saw was a symbiotic relationship between the conservative media, the conservative elected officials and the conservative public,” he said. “It drove the change. It wasn’t the economy.

A document published this summer by Michael T. Kiley, a Fed staff member, analyzed how temperature changes affect economic performance. He concluded that climate change may not alter the typical growth rate of the economy over time, but could make severe recessions more frequent. A major poor harvest, for example, would directly reduce GDP and could simultaneously create economic spillovers such as bank failures.

And Lael Brainard, Fed governor and Biden’s potential candidate to become the next president, pointed out that the unpredictable nature of climate change could render the historical models on which economic policy is based obsolete.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How should the Fed deal with climate change?
How should the Fed deal with climate change?
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