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Climate Change and Economics 101: Teaching the Greatest Market Failure

John Chung-En Liu (), Yoram Bauman () and Yating Chuang ()
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John Chung-En Liu: Department of Sociology, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA 90041, USA
Yoram Bauman: Independent Scholar, The Stand-up Economist, Salt Lake City, UT 84105, USA
Yating Chuang: UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA

Sustainability, 2019, vol. 11, issue 5, 1-12

Abstract: In this paper, we explore how principles of economics courses prepare undergraduate students to think about climate change. We collected a comprehensive list of twenty-seven introductory economics textbooks in the United States and analyzed their coverage of climate change. Our finding shows that not all texts touch upon climate science, and a small subset deviates from the scientific consensus on the human causes of climate change. All texts conceptualize climate change as a problem of carbon emission’s negative externalities and the preferred market-based solutions, such as emission trading and Pigouvian tax. Besides externality, some authors include various useful points of engagement through GDP (Gross domestic product) accounting, economic growth, collective action problems, cost–benefit analysis, and global inequality. In the end, we provide suggestions for economics educators to innovate the current introductory curriculum to better cope with the climate crisis.

Keywords: climate change; externality; economic textbooks; economics education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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