Brian R Copeland
I am a Professor in the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.
I teach and do research in the the fields of Environmental Economics and International Trade. Most of my work has been on the interaction between globalization, the environment, and the sustainability of renewable resources. I obtained my Ph.D. from Stanford University.
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This paper uses a simple general equilibrium trade model to study the viability of a global carbon tax agreement when governments have multiple policy instruments (tariffs and subsidies) available that can dampen the effects of the carbon tax on affected industries, a possibility that is sometimes referred to as "fiscal cushioning." Similar issues arise in the international trade literature because an agreement to reduce tariffs creates incentives for protectionist governments to use domestic policies as imperfect substitutes for a tariff. The paper explores the extent to which strategies to deal with policy substitution from the international trade agreement literature can be used to support international carbon tax agreements.
(with Joseph S. Shapiro and M. Scott Taylor)
Handbook of International Economics, Vol. 5, (edited by Gita Gopinath, Elhanan Helpman and Kenneth Rogoff), Elsevier (2022), pp. 61-146.
How should international economic policy address climate change? Does trade cause deforestation and endangered species depletion? How does globalization affect air and water pollution? Do trade and investment create a race to the bottom in environmental policy? How important are environmental impacts of transporting goods? We review theory and empirical work linking international trade and the environment with a focus on recent work and methods. We discuss the literature linking trade to local and global pollutants, the impact of emissions from transportation, the effect of trade on the sustainability of renewable resources, and the interaction between trade and climate policy. To shape our review, we present nine new stylized facts that, together with our review of past work, highlight questions for future research.
(with B. Bayramoglu and J.-F. Jacques)
Journal of International Economics, 112 (2018): 13-32.
Many renewable resource sectors are heavily subsidized and yet the resources are also seriously depleted. World Trade Organization members included subsidies in a key renewable resource sector (fisheries) in the Doha round of trade negotiations, which subsequently stalled. This paper develops a simple model to show why prospects for a deal on fisheries subsidies may be difficult. Typically international spillover effects create incentives among exporters to negotiate reductions in subsidies: one country's subsidy worsens other exporters' terms of trade. These incentives may not exist in fisheries for 3 reasons. First, open access fishery supply curves are backward bending and so if fisheries are depleted, subsidies raise prices (by reducing sustainable harvesting) and improve other exporters' terms of trade. Second, ecological constraints put an upper bound on sustainable harvesting. This means that subsidies that increase employment may have no effect on output and hence generate no international spillover effects if resources are well managed. And third, even if governments were compelled to reduce fishery subsidies, there may be no spillover benefits to trading partners because of policy substitution: governments would be motivated to weaken other regulations targeting the fish sector.
(with M. Scott Taylor)
Canadian Journal of Economics, 50 (2017): 1381-1413.
The paper reviews research contributions to environmental and resource economics by scholars in Canada. We focus mainly on work from the past 25 years but also highlight earlier pathbreaking work. We begin by looking at broad trends in research both internationally and within Canada. We then review Canadian contributions to various topics in the field. Canadians have played a leading role in the development of the field, especially in resource economics, international environmental economics and the valuation of environmental amenities.
(with Jevan Cherniwchan and M. Scott Taylor)
Annual Review of Economics, 9 (2017): 59–85.
We review recent research linking international trade to the environment, with a focus on new results and methods. The review is given structure by a novel decomposition linking changes in emissions to changes in productive activity at the plant, firm, industry, and national levels. Although some new results have emerged from the application of a Melitz-style approach to trade and the environment, the full potential of this approach has not yet been realized. We discuss existing empirical and theoretical work, introduce three new hypotheses, and suggest paths for future researchers to follow.
This paper develops a new argument for an export subsidy in the context of Mode 2 services trade (consumption abroad). Tourists consume a bundle of goods and services. Their choice of destination depends on the overall cost of this bundle. Using a monopolistic competition framework, a pricing externality is identified—firms do not internalize the effects of their pricing decision on the overall inflow of tourists. The paper develops conditions under which an export subsidy is optimal. It also serves to illustrate how trade policy in the context of service trade may differ from that targeting goods trade.
in Daniel Bernhofen, Rod Falvey, David Greenaway and Udo Kreickemeier, eds., Palgrave Handbook of International Trade. Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, pp.423-496.
This handbook chapter reviews recent work on trade and environment, with a particular emphasis on theoretical aspects of the analysis of linkages between trade and environmental policy.
We develop a theory of resource management where the degree to which countries escape the tragedy of the commons, and hence the de facto property rights regime, is endogenously determined. Three forces determine success or failure in resource management: the regulator's enforcement power, the extent of harvesting capacity, and the ability of the resource to generate competitive returns without being extinguished. The model can explain heterogeneity across countries and resources in the effectiveness of resource management, and it predicts that changes in prices, population, and technology can cause transitions to better or worse management regimes.
(with M. Scott Taylor)
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 49 (2005): 205-34.
This paper demonstrates how several important results in environmental economics, true under mild conditions in closed economies, are false or need serious amendment in a world with international trade in goods. Since the results we highlight have framed much of the ongoing discussion and research on the Kyoto protocol, our viewpoint from trade theory suggests a re-examination may be in order. Specifically, we demonstrate that in an open trading world, but not in a closed economy setting: (1) unilateral emission reductions by the rich North can create self-interested emission reductions by the unconstrained poor South; (2) simple rules for allocating emission reductions across countries (such as uniform reductions) may well be efficient even if international trade in emission permits is not allowed; and (3) when international emission permit trade does occur it may make both participants in the trade worse off and increase global emissions.
(with M. Scott Taylor)
Journal of Economic Literature, 42 (2004): 7-71.
(with M. Scott Taylor)
Princeton University Press, 2003.