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Responding to threats of climate change mega-catastrophes

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  • Kousky, Carolyn
  • Rostapshova, Olga
  • Toman, Michael
  • Zeckhauser, Richard

Abstract

There is a low but uncertain probability that climate change could trigger"mega-catastrophes,"severe and at least partly irreversible adverse effects across broad regions. This paper first discusses the state of current knowledge and the defining characteristics of potential climate change mega-catastrophes. While some of these characteristics present difficulties for using standard rational choice methods to evaluate response options, there is still a need to balance the benefits and costs of different possible responses with appropriate attention to the uncertainties. To that end, the authors present a qualitative analysis of three options for mitigating the risk of climate mega-catastrophes - drastic abatement of greenhouse gas emissions, development and implementation of geoengineering, and large-scale ex ante adaptation - against the criteria of efficacy, cost, robustness, and flexibility. They discuss the composition of a sound portfolio of initial investments in reducing the risk of climate change mega-catastrophes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5127.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5127

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Keywords: Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases; Climate Change Economics; Science of Climate Change; Hazard Risk Management; Transport and Environment;

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References

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  1. Thomas Sterner & U. Martin Persson, 2008. "An Even Sterner Review: Introducing Relative Prices into the Discounting Debate," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 61-76, Winter.
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  10. 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.
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  16. Kousky, Carolyn & Cooke, Roger, 2009. "Climate Change and Risk Management: Challenges for Insurance, Adaptation, and Loss Estimation," Discussion Papers dp-09-03-rev, Resources For the Future.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Wilfried Rickels & Katrin Rehdanz & Andreas Oschlies, 2009. "Economics prospects of ocean iron fertilization in an international carbon market," Kiel Working Papers 1573, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  2. Kerstin Güssow & Alexander Proelss & Andreas Oschlies & Katrin Rehdanz & Wilfried Rickels, 2009. "Ocean iron fertilization: Why further research is needed," Kiel Working Papers 1574, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  3. Jones, Benjamin & Keen, Michael & Strand, Jon, 2012. "Fiscal implications of climate change," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5956, The World Bank.
  4. Olivier STERCK, 2011. "Geoengineering as an alternative to mitigation: specification and dynamic implications," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2011035, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  5. Rickels, Wilfried & Rehdanz, Katrin & Oschlies, Andreas, 2012. "Economic prospects of ocean iron fertilization in an international carbon market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 129-150.
  6. Baptiste Perrissin Fabert & Etienne Espagne & Antonin Pottier & Patrice Dumas, 2012. "The “Doomsday” Effect in Climate Policies. Why is the Present Decade so Crucial to Tackling the Climate Challenge?," Working Papers 2012.62, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  7. Gary D. Libecap & Richard H. Steckel, 2011. "Climate Change: Adaptations in Historical Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 1-22 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Wilfried Rickels & Katrin Rehdanz & Andreas Oschlies, 2009. "Accounting aspects of ocean iron fertilization," Kiel Working Papers 1572, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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