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Carbon Prices for the Next Thousand Years

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  • Reyer Gerlagh
  • Matti Liski

Abstract

Climate is a persistent asset, bar none: changes in climate-related stocks have consequences spanning over centuries or possibly millennia to the future. To reconcile the discounting of such far-distant impacts and realism of the shorter-term decisions, we consider hyperbolic time-preferences in a climate-economy model. Time-changing utility discount rates have unexplored general-equilibrium effects: carbon prices exceed the pure carbon externality costs - the Pigouvian tax level - by multiple factors in our quantitative assessment. The climate-economy model is rich in details but can be solved in closed-form yielding Markov carbon prices dependent on climate system parameters, damage estimates, technology parameters, and both short- and long-term time preferences. The equilibrium time discount rate is endogenous, and it can justify high carbon taxes as advocated by Stern while maintaining the realism of the macroeconomic outcome, thus providing a solution for the dilemma centering the carbon tax-discount rate debate. The welfare ranking of the policy alternatives is unambiguous: enforcing the Pigouvian tax decreases a consistently-defined welfare measure vis-a-vis the Markov equilibrium.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3855.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3855

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Keywords: carbon tax; discounting; climate change; inconsistent preferences;

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References

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  1. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
  2. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "The social discount rate," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 137, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Ramsey Meets Laibson In The Neoclassical Growth Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1125-1152, November.
  5. Per Krusell & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Anthony A. Smith Jr., 2001. "Equilibrium Welfare and Government Policy with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 413, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  6. Karp, Larry S, 2004. "Global warming and hyperbolic discounting," CUDARE Working Paper Series 0934R, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  7. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
  8. Manne, Alan & Mendelsohn, Robert & Richels, Richard, 1995. "MERGE : A model for evaluating regional and global effects of GHG reduction policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 17-34, January.
  9. Karp, Larry, 2007. "Non-constant discounting in continuous time," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 557-568, January.
  10. Per Krusell & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., 2000. "Temptation and Taxation," GSIA Working Papers 2001-12, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  11. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007. "Beyond Revealed Preference Choice Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," Discussion Papers 07-031, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  12. Christian Gollier & Richard Zeckhauser, 2005. "Aggregation of Heterogeneous Time Preferences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 878-896, August.
  13. Saez-Marti, Maria & Weibull, Jorgen W., 2005. "Discounting and altruism to future decision-makers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 254-266, June.
  14. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2009. "Beyond Revealed Preference: Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 51-104, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Geoffrey Heal & Antony Millner, 2013. "Uncertainty and decision in climate change economics," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 108, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  2. Armon Rezai & Frederick van der Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2012. "The Optimal Carbon Tax and Economic Growth: Additive versus Multiplicative Damages," CEEES Paper Series CE3S-05/12, European University at St. Petersburg, Department of Economics.
  3. Inge van den Bijgaart & Reyer Gerlagh & Luuk Korsten & Matti Liski, 2013. "A Simple Formula for the Social Cost of Carbon," Working Papers 2013.83, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Simon Dietz & Anca N. Matei, 2013. "Is there space for agreement on climate change? A non-parametric approach to policy evaluation," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 136, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  5. Lintunen , Jussi & Vilmi, Lauri, 2013. "On optimal emission control – Taxes, substitution and business cycles," Research Discussion Papers 24/2013, Bank of Finland.
  6. Iverson, Terrence, 2012. "Optimal Carbon Taxes with Non-Constant Time Preference," MPRA Paper 43264, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Frederick van der Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2010. "Is there really a Green Paradox?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-020/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 27 Aug 2012.
  8. Larry S. Karp, 2012. "Provision of a Public Good with Altruistic Overlapping Generations and Many Tribes," CESifo Working Paper Series 3895, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Gerlagh, Reyer & Kverndokk, Snorre & Rosendahl, Knut Einar, 2014. "The optimal time path of clean energy R&D policy when patents have finite lifetime," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 2-19.
  10. Michielsen, T.O., 2013. "Environmental Catastrophes Under Time-inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Paper 2013-013, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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