Monday, September 13, 2010

The Outline

We are now working on an annotated outline of Chapter 10, to be agreed at a later stage in coordination with the other 29 chapters.
Reaching agreement will be hard, partly because there are so many people around the table, and partly because the starting point is a fine example of writing by committee.
Ten chapters have a regional focus, and two are introductory so that the substance of "impacts, adaptation and vulnerability" are spread over 18 chapters only.
Chapter 10 covers networked infrastructure, industry and manufacturing, tourist, social and other services, market impacts and perhaps food production. That is, the secondary, tertiary, and quartery sectors and their interactions, and perhaps the primary sectors too -- the whole economy so.
The problem is that there are two chapters on water resources. Changes in the water avaiable for drinking, sewage, irrigation, cooling, and navigation is important to the economy. Where do these chapters end and Chapter 10 start? How to ensure consistency? Ditto for the chapter of food and agriculture, and the chapter on health (the largest sector of the economy). And then there is a chapter on sea level rise and coastal zones, where a lot of economic activity is concentrated. And of course the chapters on rural and urban areas, and the one on poverty.
There are four (!) chapters on adaptation. However, the economic impacts of climate change are mostly about people and companies responding to changed circumstances -- that is, adaptation.
To top it all up, there are two chapters that synthesize the impacts, look at different metrics of aggregation, study interactions between sectors and estimate higher-order effects -- just like you would expect in an economic paper on the impacts of climate change.
I expect the discussions on which chapter does what and why to drag on and on, right up till be final draft. There'll be a lot of heat and little light.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Regulating Knowledge Monopolies: The Case of the IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has a monopoly on the provision of climate policy advice at the international level and a strong market position in national policy advice. This may have been the intention of the founders of the IPCC. I argue that the IPCC has a natural monopoly, as a new entrant would have to invest time and effort over a longer period to perhaps match the reputation, trust, goodwill, and network of the IPCC. The IPCC is a not-for-profit organization, and it is run by nominal volunteers; it therefore cannot engage in the price-gouging that is typical of monopolies. However, the IPCC has certainly taken up tasks outside its mandate; the IPCC has been accused of haughtiness; innovation is slow; quality may have declined; and the IPCC may have used its power to hinder competitors. There are all things that monopolies tend to do, against the public interest. The IPCC would perform better if it were regulated by an independent body which audits the IPCC procedures and assesses its performance; if outside organizations would be allowed to bid for the production of reports and the provision of services under the IPCC brand; and if policy makers would encourage potential competitors to the IPCC.

Full paper