Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Climate Solutions Lab

Economics of Global Warming

Brown University


Fall 2021

Prof. Matthew Turner

Undergraduate lecture

The problem of global warming can be described with by a simple economic model. We face a trade-off between current consumption, future consumption, and future climate. We have preferences over consumption and climate and would like to choose our optimal climate/consumption bundle. This course is organized around filling in the details required to make this model useful, characterizing the optimal climate/consumption path suggested by the model, and finally, investigating policies to move us towards the optimal path.

The first part of the course will be devoted to developing an understanding of the facts that confront us. The second part of the course will be devoted to solving for the optimal climate and consumption path. The third part of the course will investigate carbon mitigation policies. The course will require familiarity with microeconomics and basic calculus. In particular, I will assume you are familiar with the material from intermediate microeconomics and that you can solve univariate optimization problems. I will cover solution methods for more difficult problems in class.