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Checking the Price Tag on Catastrophe: The Social Cost of Carbon Under Non-linear Climate Response

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  • Ceronsky, Megan
  • Anthoff, David
  • Hepburn, Cameron
  • Tol, Richard S. J.

Abstract

Research into the social cost of carbon emissions ? the marginal social damage from a tonne of emitted carbon ? has tended to focus on "best guess" scenarios. Such scenarios generally ignore the potential for low-probability, high-damage events, which are critically important to determining optimal climate policy. This paper uses the FUND integrated assessment model to investigate the influence of three types of low-probability, high-impact climate responses on the social cost of carbon: the collapse of the Atlantic Ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation; large scale dissociation of oceanic methane hydrates; and climate sensitivities above "best guess" levels. We find that incorporating these events can increase the social cost of carbon by a factor of over 3.

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Paper provided by Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in its series Papers with number WP392.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp392

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Keywords: Social cost of carbon/cost/scenarios/Climate policy/Policy;

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References

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  1. Weitzman, Martin L., 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Scholarly Articles 3693423, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Gjerde, Jon & Grepperud, Sverre & Kverndokk, Snorre, 1999. "Optimal climate policy under the possibility of a catastrophe," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 289-317, August.
  3. P. Link & Richard Tol, 2011. "Estimation of the economic impact of temperature changes induced by a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation: an application of FUND," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 287-304, January.
  4. Kolstad, Charles D., 1994. "George Bush versus Al Gore : Irreversibilities in greenhouse gas accumulation and emission control investment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(9), pages 771-778, September.
  5. Baranzini, Andrea & Chesney, Marc & Morisset, Jacques, 2003. "The impact of possible climate catastrophes on global warming policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 691-701, June.
  6. Keller, Klaus & Bolker, Benjamin M. & Bradford, D.F.David F., 2004. "Uncertain climate thresholds and optimal economic growth," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 723-741, July.
  7. Richard S.J. Tol, 2002. "Emission Abatement Versus Development As Strategies To Reduce Vulnerability To Climate Change: An Application Of Fund," Working Papers FNU-12, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2002.
  8. Tol, Richard S. J., 2001. "Equitable cost-benefit analysis of climate change policies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 71-85, January.
  9. P. Michael Link & Richard S.J. Tol, 2004. "Possible Economic Impacts of a Shutdown of the Thermohaline Circulation: an Application of FUND," Working Papers FNU-42, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2004.
  10. Tol, Richard S. J., 2005. "The marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions: an assessment of the uncertainties," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(16), pages 2064-2074, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Tol, Richard S. J., 2007. "The Social Cost of Carbon: Trends, Outliers and Catastrophes," Economics Discussion Papers 2007-44, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  2. Elizabeth Kopits & Alex L. Marten & Ann Wolverton, 2013. "Moving Forward with Incorporating "Catastrophic" Climate Change into Policy Analysis," NCEE Working Paper Series 201301, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Jan 2013.
  3. Stephen Newbold & Adam Daigneault, 2009. "Climate Response Uncertainty and the Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 44(3), pages 351-377, November.
  4. Pushpam Kumar & Uwe A. Schneider, 2008. "Greenhouse gas emission mitigation through agriculture," Working Papers FNU-155, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Feb 2008.
  5. Onno J. Kuik & Barbara Bucher & Michela Catenacci & Etem Karakaya & Richard S.J. Tol, 2006. "Methodological aspects of recent climate change damage cost studies," Working Papers FNU-122, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Dec 2006.
  6. P. Link & Richard Tol, 2011. "Estimation of the economic impact of temperature changes induced by a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation: an application of FUND," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 287-304, January.
  7. Kousky, Carolyn & Kopp, Robert E. & Cooke, Roger, 2011. "Risk premia and the social cost of carbon: A review," Economics Discussion Papers 2011-19, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  8. Fisher, Anthony C & Le, Phu V, 2014. "Reflections on Climate Policy:Science, Economics, and Extremes," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt6tj3j4jb, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  9. Richard S.J. Tol, 2012. "Targets for Global Climate Policy: An Overview," Working Paper Series 3712, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
  10. Tol, Richard S.J., 2007. "Europe's long-term climate target: A critical evaluation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 424-432, January.

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