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Comparing Greenhouse Gases for Policy Purposes

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  • Richard Schmalensee

Abstract

In order to derive optimal policies for greenhouse gas emissions control, the discounted marginal damages of emissions from different gases must be compared. The greenhouse warming potential (GWP) index, which is most often used to compare greenhouse gases, is not based on such a damage comparison. This essay presents assumptions under which ratios of gas-specific discounted marginal damages reduce to ratios of discounted marginal contributions to radiative forcing, where the discount rate is the difference between the discount rate relevant to climate-related damages and the rate of growth of marginal climate-related damages over time. If there are important gas-specific costs or benefits not tied to radiative forcing, however, such as direct effects of carbon dioxide on plant growth, there is in general no shortcut around explicit comparison of discounted net marginal damages.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Schmalensee, 1993. "Comparing Greenhouse Gases for Policy Purposes," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 245-256.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:1993v14-01-a10
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    Cited by:

    1. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Pizer, William A., 2006. "The Economics of Climate Change," Discussion Papers dp-06-06, Resources For the Future.
    2. Christian Azar & Daniel Johansson, 2012. "Valuing the non-CO 2 climate impacts of aviation," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 111(3), pages 559-579, April.
    3. Tol, Richard S. J. & Berntsen, Terje K. & O'Neill, Brian C. & Fuglestvedt, Jan S. & Shine, Keith P. & Balkanski, Yves & Makra, Laszlo, 2008. "Metrics for Aggregating the Climate Effect of Different Emissions: A Unifying Framework," Papers WP257, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    4. Michaelis, P., 1999. "Sustainable greenhouse policies: the role of non-CO2 gases," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 239-260, June.
    5. Marten, Alex L. & Newbold, Stephen C., 2012. "Estimating the social cost of non-CO2 GHG emissions: Methane and nitrous oxide," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 957-972.
    6. Jessica Strefler & Gunnar Luderer & Tino Aboumahboub & Elmar Kriegler, 2014. "Economic impacts of alternative greenhouse gas emission metrics: a model-based assessment," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 319-331, August.
    7. Linda Sygna & Jan Fuglestvedt & H. Aaheim, 2002. "The adequacy of GWPs as indicators of damage costsincurred by global warming," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 45-62, March.
    8. Johansson, Daniel J.A., 2009. "Economics vs. Physical-based Metrics for Relative Greenhouse Gas Valuations," Working Papers in Economics 363, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    9. Kolstad, Charles D. & Toman, Michael, 2005. "The Economics of Climate Policy," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1561-1618 Elsevier.
    10. Kandlikar, Milind, 1996. "Indices for comparing greenhouse gas emissions: integrating science and economics," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 265-281, October.
    11. Richard S. J. Tol & Seán Lyons, 2008. "Incorporating GHG Emission Costs in the Economic Appraisal of Projects Supported by State Development Agencies," Papers WP247, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    12. Daniel Johansson, 2012. "Economics- and physical-based metrics for comparing greenhouse gases," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 110(1), pages 123-141, January.
    13. Kandlikar, Milind, 1995. "The relative role of trace gas emissions in greenhouse abatement policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 879-883, October.
    14. Krupnick, Alan & Darmstadter, Joel & Richardson, Nathan & McLaughlin, Katrina, 2015. "Putting a Carbon Charge on Federal Coal: Legal and Economic Issues," Discussion Papers dp-15-13, Resources For the Future.
    15. Toman, Michael & Shogren, Jason, 2000. "Climate Change Policy," Discussion Papers dp-00-22, Resources For the Future.
    16. Chomitz, Kenneth M., 2000. "Evaluating carbon offsets from forestry and energy projects," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2357, The World Bank.
    17. Rautiainen, Aapo & Lintunen, Jussi, 2017. "Social Cost of Forcing: A Basis for Pricing All Forcing Agents," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 42-51.
    18. Stéphane De Cara & Elodie Debove & Pierre-Alain Jayet, 2006. "The Global Warming Potential Paradox: Implications for the Design of Climate Policy," Working Papers 2006/03, INRA, Economie Publique.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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