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Weight Factors in Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change

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  • Christian Azar

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    Abstract

    Equity considerations may justify the use of weight factors when estimating the costs of climate change. This paper reviews different weight factors that have been used in the climate economics literature. Based on a simple model, it is shown that although the different weight factors imply substantially different cost-damage estimates, they actually yield the same optimal emission reductions. This paradox is explained by the fact that some of the approaches require that also the abatement costs are weighted – and this offsets the effect of the diverging cost-damage estimates. The model is then used to analyse the importance weighting may have on the overall cost-benefit analysis. At present, when most of the global emissions of (fossil) CO2 originate from the industrialised countries, the global optimal emissions are considerably lower if costs are weighted. However, the more the emissions in developing countries grow, the less important becomes the introduction of weight factors in cost-benefit analysis of climate change for the global emission reductions, in the model developed here. On a regional level, the introduction of weight factors continues to play an important role, implying substantially lower emissions in the rich region and slightly higher (!) in the poor. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1008229225527
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

    Volume (Year): 13 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 3 (April)
    Pages: 249-268

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:13:y:1999:i:3:p:249-268

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100263

    Related research

    Keywords: climate change; cost-benefit analysis; developing countries; value of a statistical life; weight factors;

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    1. William R. Cline, 1992. "Economics of Global Warming, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 39.
    2. Azar, Christian & Sterner, Thomas, 1996. "Discounting and distributional considerations in the context of global warming," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-184, November.
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    4. Robert Ayres & Jörg Walter, 1991. "The greenhouse effect: Damages, costs and abatement," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 1(3), pages 237-270, September.
    5. Spash, Clive L., 1994. "Double CO2 and beyond: benefits, costs and compensation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 27-36, May.
    6. Bingham, Gail & Bishop, Richard & Brody, Michael & Bromley, Daniel & Clark, Edwin (Toby) & Cooper, William & Costanza, Robert & Hale, Thomas & Hayden, Gregory & Kellert, Stephen, 1995. "Issues in ecosystem valuation: improving information for decision making," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 73-90, August.
    7. Nordhaus, William D, 1991. "To Slow or Not to Slow: The Economics of the Greenhouse Effect," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 920-37, July.
    8. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, December.
    9. Plambeck, Erica L & Hope, Chris, 1996. "PAGE95 : An updated valuation of the impacts of global warming," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(9), pages 783-793, September.
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