This paper provides a primer on the fiscal implications of climate change, in particular the policies for responding to it. Many of the complicated challenges that arise in limiting climate change (through greenhouse gas emissions mitigation), and in dealing with the effects that remain (through adaptation to climate change impacts), are of a fiscal nature. While mitigation has the potential to raise substantial public revenue (through charges on greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation largely leads to fiscal outlays. Policies may unduly favor public spending (on technological solutions to limit emissions, and on adaptation), over policies that lead to more public revenue being raised (emissions charges). The pervasive uncertainties that surround climate change make the design of proper policy responses even more complex. This applies especially to policies for mitigation of emissions, since agreement on and international enforcement of cooperative abatement policies are exceedingly difficult to achieve, and there is as yet no common view on how to compare nearer-term costs of mitigation to longer-term benefits.
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