News - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

New Book from Former Harvard Environmental Economics Program Pre-Doctoral Fellow Gernot Wagner on Effective Environmental Economic Policy

| November 2011

<em>But Will the Planet Notice?: How Smart Economics Can Save the World</em>

Gernot Wagner, a former Pre-Doctoral Fellow of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program (HEEP), has published a book entitled But Will the Planet Notice?: How Smart Economics Can Save the World. Gernot is a staff economist with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a global environmental research and advocacy organization based in New York. HEEP is the parent program at Harvard University of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements.

The core message of But Will the Planet Notice?—presented with both rigor and wit—is that the actions of individuals can do very little to solve major environment problems, including climate change, species preservation, and water scarcity. What's required is economic policy that motivates large portions of the population—and major industrial sectors—to reduce pollution and use resources more efficiently. Gernot summarizes his arguments in an op-ed column that appeared in the New York Times on September 7, 2011, "Going Green but Getting Nowhere":

You reduce, reuse and recycle. You turn down plastic and paper. You avoid out-of-season grapes. You do all the right things. Good. Just know that it won’t save the tuna, protect the rain forest or stop global warming. The changes necessary are so large and profound that they are beyond the reach of individual action … High school science tells us that global warming is real. And economics teaches us that humanity must have the right incentives if it is to stop this terrible trend.

Robert Stavins, Director of HEEP and the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements—and Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School—praises Gernot's book on its back cover:

For more than thirty years, I’ve been waiting for a book that would accurately embody an economic perspective on environmental policy and clearly present it to a truly broad readership. At last, Gernot Wagner has done it, and done it with style! His explanations and commentaries are true to the underlying science and economics, and his prose makes this not just a very interesting read, but an immensely enjoyable one. Whether you are on the right or the left of the political spectrum—or stuck in the middle like me—this is a book that you should read, and will be glad you did!

For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Stowe, Robert C.. “New Book from Former Harvard Environmental Economics Program Pre-Doctoral Fellow Gernot Wagner on Effective Environmental Economic Policy.” News, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center, November 2011.