Spring 2018 | Tuesday/Thursday 12:00 - 1:30 PM
This course examines environmental and energy issues from an economist's perspective. Over the last several decades, energy markets have become some of the most dynamic markets of the world economy, as they experienced a shift from heavy regulation to market-driven incentives. First, we look scarcity pricing and market power in electricity and gasoline markets. We then study oil and gas markets, with an emphasis on optimal extraction and pricing, and geopolitical risks that investors in hydrocarbon resources face. We then shift gears to the sources of environmental problems (many of which are energy-related), and how policy makers can intervene to solve some of these problems. We talk about the economic rationale for a broad range of possible policies: environmental taxes, subsidies, performance standards and cap-and-trade. In doing so, we discuss fundamental concepts in environmental economics, such as externalities, valuation of the environment and the challenge of designing international agreements. At the end of the course, there will be special attention for the economics and finance of renewable energy and policies to foster its growth. Finally, we discuss the transportation sector, and analyze heavily debated policies such as fuel-economy standards and subsidies for green vehicles.