London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), 2025
This thesis is composed of four environmental economics essays spanning the topics of climate change, international trade, and meat consumption. The first two chapters bring together approaches from the fields of international trade and climate econometrics. Using reduced-form empirical methods informed by theory, they investigate how international trade and weather shocks interact to affect economic outcomes. Chapter 1 estimates the impact of weather shocks on export sales relative to domestic market sales, finding that in the agricultural sector temperature shocks create additional barriers to international trade, as do precipitation shocks for the manufacturing sector in rainy countries. Chapter 2 examines the historical role of trade openness in the effect of temperature shocks on growth, finding some support for the hypothesis that connectedness to international markets may help to mitigate the impact of temperature shocks on economic growth. Chapter 3 continues the focus on international trade but shifts towards the topic of reduced meat consumption. Using insights from a structural gravity model for international trade, this paper explores how the impact of a tax on meat consumption in the EU can reach beyond borders and generate market signals via international trade mechanisms that undermine (to some degree) the aim of mitigating carbon emissions. Chapter 4 continues the theme of meat consumption but departs from the international trade perspective and instead focuses to the US market. Using granular data on households and stores, this paper interrogates popular stories about plant-based meat substitute products, finding that they remain a niche market and so far have shown limited potential for decarbonizing the food sector. This analysis highlights the potential need for policy intervention to spur demand growth and innovation in this product space. Overall, this thesis contributes to broadening our understanding of the challenges posed by climate change and climate policymaking.