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Estimating the Social Cost of Non-CO2 GHG Emissions: Methane and Nitrous Oxide

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  • Alex L. Marten
  • Stephen C. Newbold

Abstract

Many estimates of the social cost of CO2 emissions (SCCO2) can be found in the climate economics literature. However, to date far fewer estimates of the social costs of other greenhouse gases have been published, and many of those that are available are not directly comparable to current estimates of the SCCO2. In this paper we use a simplified integrated assessment model that combines MAGICC and (elements of) DICE to estimate the social costs of the three most important greenhouse gases—CO2, CH4, and N2O—for the years 2010 through 2050. Insofar as possible, we base our model runs on the assumptions and input parameters of the recent U.S. government inter-agency SCC working group. We compare our estimates of the social costs of CH4 and N2O emissions to those that would be produced by using the SCCO2 to value the "CO2-equivalents" of each of these gases, as calculated using their global warming potentials (GWPs). We examine the estimation error induced by valuing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emission reductions using GWPs and the SCCO2 for single- and multi-gas abatement policies. In both cases the error can be large, so estimates of the social costs of these gases, rather than proxies based on GWPs, should be used whenever possible. However, if estimates of the social cost are not available the value of non-CO2 GHG reductions estimated using GWPs and the SCCO2 will typically have lower absolute errors than default estimates of zero. Updated version posted 2-14-2012

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its series NCEE Working Paper Series with number 201101.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision: Feb 2011
Handle: RePEc:nev:wpaper:wp201101

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Keywords: social cost of carbon; global warming potential; integrated assessment;

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  1. Kandlikar, Milind, 1996. "Indices for comparing greenhouse gas emissions: integrating science and economics," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 265-281, October.
  2. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Discounting the distant future: how much do uncertain rates increase valuations?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 52-71, July.
  3. Daiju Narita & Richard Tol & David Anthoff, 2010. "Economic costs of extratropical storms under climate change: an application of FUND," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(3), pages 371-384.
  4. Kandlikar, Milind, 1995. "The relative role of trace gas emissions in greenhouse abatement policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 879-883, October.
  5. Plambeck, Erica L. & Hope, Chris & Anderson, John, 1997. "The model: Integrating the science and economics of global warming," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 77-101, March.
  6. Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
  7. John Reilly & Kenneth Richards, 1993. "Climate change damage and the trace gas index issue," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 41-61, February.
  8. David Pearce, 2003. "The Social Cost of Carbon and its Policy Implications," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(3), pages 362-384.
  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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Cited by:
  1. Robert w. Hahn & Robert A. Ritz, 2013. "Does the social Cost of Carbon Matter?: An Assessment of U.S. Policy," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1346, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  2. Marten, Alex L., 2011. "Transient temperature response modeling in IAMs: The effects of over simplification on the SCC," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 5(18), pages 1-42.

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