UNR Forum Looks At Economic Impacts Of Climate Change

Sep 27, 2017

Scientists and community leaders gathered at the University of Nevada, Reno to discuss the impacts of climate change—on the environment and the economy.

Reno Public Radio's Noah Glick reports.

During an all-day forum hosted by UNR’s College of Business, science and policy experts examined the challenges posed by climate change. But two panel discussions focused solely on the economic impact.

Frances Moore is an assistant professor in environmental science and policy at the University of California, Davis, and served on one of those two panels. She says climate change is a problem of economics.

“For economists, the reason climate change is a problem is that these effects that we have when we burn fossil fuels around the world are not priced into the costs of energy production,” she says.

Moore says economists agree that there should be a cost to carbon emissions, but the exact price and how that’s implemented is still up for debate.

And there’s another field of thought that’s beginning to take shape. Dilek Uz is an assistant professor of economics at UNR. She says behavioral economics can help encourage more efficient use of energy, by tapping into psychology and people’s hard-wired beliefs to fit in.

“If you tell people, ‘If you reuse your hotel towel, it is good for the environment,’ people are a lot less likely to do that versus if you tell them, ‘Well, the majority of the people reuse their towels,’” she says.

This year, California Governor Jerry Brown extended the state’s cap-and-trade program that requires companies to buy permits to emit greenhouse gases. Some environmental activists say the measure doesn’t go far enough, while some business leaders call it too costly.