IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/jeclit/v45y2007i3p703-724.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Author

Listed:
  • Martin L. Weitzman

Abstract

The Stern Review calls for immediate decisive action to stabilize greenhouse gases because "the benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweighs the costs." The economic analysis supporting this conclusion consists mostly of two basic strands. The first strand is a formal aggregative model that relies for its conclusions primarily upon imposing a very low discount rate. Concerning this discount-rate aspect, I am skeptical of the Review 's formal analysis, but this essay points out that we are actually a lot less sure about what interest rate should be used for discounting climate change than is commonly acknowledged. The Review 's second basic strand is a more intuitive argument that it might be very important to avoid possibly large uncertainties that are difficult to quantify. Concerning this uncertainty aspect, I argue that it might be recast into sound analytical reasoning that might justify some of the Review 's conclusions. The basic issue here is that spending money to slow global warming should perhaps not be conceptualized primarily as being about consumption smoothing as much as being about how much insurance to buy to offset the small change of a ruinous catastrophe that is difficult to compensate by ordinary savings.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:45:y:2007:i:3:p:703-724
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.45.3.703
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jel.45.3.703
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. William R. Cline, 1992. "Economics of Global Warming, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 39, July.
    2. Richard S. J. Tol & Gary W. Yohe, 2006. "A Review of the Stern Review," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(4), pages 233-250, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Pedro Conceição & Yanchun Zhang, 2010. "Discounting in the context of climate change economics: the policy implications of uncertainty and global asymmetries," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 12(1), pages 31-57, June.
    2. David Anthoff & Richard Tol, 2009. "The Impact of Climate Change on the Balanced Growth Equivalent: An Application of FUND," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 351-367, July.
    3. Graham Dawson, 2013. "Austrian economics and climate change," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 183-206, June.
    4. Tol, Richard S. J., 2008. "The Social Cost of Carbon: Trends, Outliers and Catastrophes," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), vol. 2, pages 1-22.
    5. Dietz, Simon, 2009. "From efficiency to justice: utility as the informational basis of climate change strategies, and some alternatives," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37616, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Simon Dietz, 2009. "From efficiency to justice: utility as the informational basis of climate change strategies, and some alternatives," GRI Working Papers 13, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    7. Lawrence H. Goulder & Roberton C. Williams, 2012. "The Choice Of Discount Rate For Climate Change Policy Evaluation," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(04), pages 1-18.
    8. Fritz Rahmeyer, 2007. "Europäischer Handel mit Treibhausgasemissionszertifikaten und seine Umsetzung in das deutsche Umweltrecht," Discussion Paper Series 296, Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics.
    9. Olivier Godard, 2007. "Climat et générations futures - Un examen critique du débat académique suscité par le Rapport Stern," Working Papers hal-00243059, HAL.
    10. Neumayer, Eric, 2007. "A missed opportunity: the Stern review on climate change fails to tackle the issue of non-substitutable loss of natural capital," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3059, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. van den Bergh, J.C.J.M. & Botzen, W.J.W., 2015. "Monetary valuation of the social cost of CO2 emissions: A critical survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 33-46.
    12. Stern, Nicholas, 2018. "Public economics as if time matters: Climate change and the dynamics of policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 4-17.
    13. Grubb, Michael & Chapuis, Thierry & Duong, Minh Ha, 1995. "The economics of changing course : Implications of adaptability and inertia for optimal climate policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 417-431.
    14. Dritan Osmani & Richard S.J. Tol, 2008. "Evolution in time of Farsightedly Stable Coalitions: An Application of FUND," Working Papers FNU-162, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2008.
    15. Ruiz Estrada, Mario Arturo, 2013. "The Macroeconomics evaluation of Climate Change Model (MECC-Model): The case Study of China," MPRA Paper 49158, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 18 Aug 2013.
    16. Steve Newbold & Charles Griffiths & Christopher C. Moore & Ann Wolverton & Elizabeth Kopits, 2010. "The "Social Cost of Carbon" Made Simple," NCEE Working Paper Series 201007, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Aug 2010.
    17. Pizer, William A., 1999. "The optimal choice of climate change policy in the presence of uncertainty," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 255-287, August.
    18. Matthias Schmidt & Hermann Held & Elmar Kriegler & Alexander Lorenz, 2013. "Climate Policy Under Uncertain and Heterogeneous Climate Damages," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(1), pages 79-99, January.
    19. Tol, Richard S.J. & Yohe, Gary W., 2009. "The Stern Review: A deconstruction," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1032-1040, March.
    20. Toth, Ferenc L, 1995. "Discounting in integrated assessments of climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 403-409.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:45:y:2007:i:3:p:703-724. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.