Thinking Globally to Mitigate Climate Change: Paying Local Communities to Protect Forests

Hosted by:
MIT 35-225, Cambridge, MA

Carbon emissions take no notice of international borders: Emissions from halfway around the world can have impacts in our own country. This makes climate change truly a global problem—and countries seeking to mitigate climate change should look worldwide for the best ways to do so. Some of the lowest-cost opportunities are in low- and middle-income countries, but it is important that efforts to address climate change do not inflict further economic hardship on people experiencing poverty.

In this Data, Decisions, Public Policy (D2P2) talk, economist Seema Jayachandran (Northwestern) will discuss approaches to mitigating climate change through reducing deforestation in low-income countries—without exacerbating poverty. Seema will discuss the findings from a randomized evaluation of a “payments for ecosystem services” program in Uganda, which quantified the amount of forest preserved, the resulting reduction in carbon emissions, and the cost-effectiveness of this approach to addressing climate change.

Seema Jayachandran is a Professor of Economics at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on economic issues in developing countries, including environmental conservation, gender equality, labor markets, health, and education. She is a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award, and the Ecological Society of America's Sustainability Science Award.

She currently serves as co-editor for the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics and associate editor for the Quarterly Journal of Economics. She is also a board member and chair of the gender sector for the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and is co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research's program in Development Economics. In addition, she writes regularly for the New York Times as a contributor to the Economic View column. Prior to joining Northwestern, she was a faculty member at Stanford University. She earned a PhD in economics from Harvard University, a master’s degree in physics and philosophy from the University of Oxford where she was a Marshall Scholar, and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from MIT.