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Checking The Price Tag On Catastrophe: The Social Cost Of Carbon Under Non-Linear Climate Response

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Author Info

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

    ()
    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

Abstract

Research into the social cost of carbon emissions — the marginal social damage from a ton 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 non-linear climate responses on the social cost of carbon: the collapse of the thermohaline circulation; the dissociation of oceanic methane hydrates; and climate sensitivities above “best guess” levels. We find that incorporating these impacts can increase the social cost of carbon by a factor of 20. Furthermore, our results suggest that the exclusive focus on thermohaline circulation collapse in the non-linear climate response literature is unwarranted, because other potential non-linear climate responses appear to be significantly more costly.

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File URL: http://www.fnu.zmaw.de/fileadmin/fnu-files/publication/working-papers/catastrophewp.pdf
File Function: First version, 2005
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University in its series Working Papers with number FNU-87.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision: Aug 2005
Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:87

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Keywords: climate change; catastrophe; non-linearity; impacts;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Tol, Richard S. J., 2001. "Equitable cost-benefit analysis of climate change policies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 71-85, January.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Weitzman, Martin L., 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Scholarly Articles 3693423, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Tol, Richard S.J., 2007. "Europe's long-term climate target: A critical evaluation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 424-432, January.
  2. Richard S.J. Tol, 2012. "Targets for Global Climate Policy: An Overview," Working Paper Series 3712, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
  3. 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.
  4. Tol, Richard S. J., 2008. "The Social Cost of Carbon: Trends, Outliers and Catastrophes," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 2(25), pages 1-22.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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