IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/ecolec/v114y2015icp33-46.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Monetary valuation of the social cost of CO2 emissions: A critical survey

Author

Listed:
  • van den Bergh, J.C.J.M.
  • Botzen, W.J.W.

Abstract

An expanding branch of research has estimated the potential costs of climate change, which are often expressed as the “Social Cost of Carbon” (SCC) or the costs of an additional ton of CO2 emissions. Estimates of the SCC can be used by policy makers to evaluate climate change policies and greenhouse gas emission reduction projects by means of cost–benefit analyses (CBAs). Such analyses are complicated by the wide range of SCC values that have been reported in the literature, and the large uncertainties involved in estimating the potential economic impacts and related costs of climate change. This study presents a critical review of the reported SCC estimates by examining some neglected consequences of climate change, uncertain and extreme scenarios of climate change, the discounting of future climate change effects, the treatment of individual risk aversion, and assumptions about social welfare. In view of the many uncertainties and omissions in conventional cost–benefit analyses of climate impacts and the SCC, alternative approaches to decision-making should be considered for climate policy.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:114:y:2015:i:c:p:33-46
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.03.015
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800915001007
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
    ---><---

    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. Gowdy, John M., 2008. "Behavioral economics and climate change policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 632-644, December.
    2. 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.
    3. W. Botzen & Jeroen Bergh, 2014. "Specifications of Social Welfare in Economic Studies of Climate Policy: Overview of Criteria and Related Policy Insights," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(1), pages 1-33, May.
    4. Anthoff, David & Rose, Steven & Tol, Richard S. J. & Waldhoff, Stephanie, 2011. "The time evolution of the social cost of carbon: An application of fund," Economics Discussion Papers 2011-44, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    5. 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.
    6. Martin L. Weitzman, 2012. "GHG Targets as Insurance Against Catastrophic Climate Damages," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 14(2), pages 221-244, March.
    7. James S. Dyer & Rakesh K. Sarin, 1982. "Relative Risk Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(8), pages 875-886, August.
    8. Nordhaus, William, 2013. "Integrated Economic and Climate Modeling," Handbook of Computable General Equilibrium Modeling, in: Peter B. Dixon & Dale Jorgenson (ed.), Handbook of Computable General Equilibrium Modeling, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 1069-1131, Elsevier.
    9. Wouter Botzen, W.J. & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2012. "How sensitive is Nordhaus to Weitzman? Climate policy in DICE with an alternative damage function," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 372-374.
    10. Popp, David, 2004. "ENTICE: endogenous technological change in the DICE model of global warming," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 742-768, July.
    11. Gollier, Christian, 2010. "Ecological discounting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 812-829, March.
    12. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    13. Richard S. J. Tol, 2014. "Correction and Update: The Economic Effects of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 221-226, Spring.
    14. Martin L. Weitzman, 2013. "Tail-Hedge Discounting and the Social Cost of Carbon," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 873-882, September.
    15. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Climate policy with Bentham–Rawls preferences," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 424-428.
    16. Megan Ceronsky & David Anthoff & Cameron Hepburn & Richard S.J. Tol, 2005. "Checking The Price Tag On Catastrophe: The Social Cost Of Carbon Under Non-Linear Climate Response," Working Papers FNU-87, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Aug 2005.
    17. Simon Dietz & Nicholas Stern, 2014. "Endogenous growth, convexity of damages and climate risk: how Nordhaus� framework supports deep cuts in carbon emissions," GRI Working Papers 159, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    18. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change. Part 1: Benchmark Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(1), pages 47-73, January.
    19. Ackerman, Frank & Stanton, Elizabeth A. & Bueno, Ramón, 2010. "Fat tails, exponents, extreme uncertainty: Simulating catastrophe in DICE," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1657-1665, June.
    20. Simon Dietz, 2011. "High impact, low probability? An empirical analysis of risk in the economics of climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 519-541, October.
    21. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    22. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
    23. 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 (IfW), vol. 2, pages 1-22.
    24. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(2), pages 135-160, February.
    25. Martin L. Weitzman, 2001. "Gamma Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 260-271, March.
    26. Dietz, Simon & Asheim, Geir B., 2012. "Climate policy under sustainable discounted utilitarianism," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 321-335.
    27. Marechal, Kevin, 2007. "The economics of climate change and the change of climate in economics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 5181-5194, October.
    28. Noah Kaufman, 2014. "Why is risk aversion unaccounted for in environmental policy evaluations?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 127-135, July.
    29. Weitzman, Martin L., 2010. "Risk-adjusted gamma discounting," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 1-13, July.
    30. Robert S. Pindyck, 2013. "Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 860-872, September.
    31. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    32. Frank Ackerman & Elizabeth Stanton & Ramón Bueno, 2013. "Epstein–Zin Utility in DICE: Is Risk Aversion Irrelevant to Climate Policy?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 56(1), pages 73-84, September.
    33. Hof, Andries F. & van Vuuren, Detlef P. & den Elzen, Michel G.J., 2010. "A quantitative minimax regret approach to climate change: Does discounting still matter?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 43-51, November.
    34. Hope, Chris, 2008. "Discount rates, equity weights and the social cost of carbon," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1011-1019, May.
    35. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, Kenneth E., 2002. "A Review of WTA/WTP Studies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 426-447, November.
    36. Kjell Arne Brekke & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2008. "The behavioural economics of climate change," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 280-297, Summer.
    37. Helgeson, Jennifer & Dietz, Simon & Atkinson, Giles D. & Hepburn, Cameron & Sælen, Håkon, 2009. "Siblings, not triplets: social preferences for risk, inequality and time in discounting climate change," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-28.
    38. Richard Tol, 2012. "On the Uncertainty About the Total Economic Impact of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 53(1), pages 97-116, September.
    39. Tol, Richard S. J., 2002. "Welfare specifications and optimal control of climate change: an application of fund," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 367-376, July.
    40. William R. Cline, 1992. "Economics of Global Warming, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 39.
    41. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
    42. Roberto Roson & Dominique Van der Mensbrugghe, 2012. "Climate change and economic growth: impacts and interactions," International Journal of Sustainable Economy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 4(3), pages 270-285.
    43. Pycroft, Jonathan & Vergano, Lucia & Hope, Chris & Paci, Daniele & Ciscar, Juan Carlos, 2011. "A tale of tails: Uncertainty and the social cost of carbon dioxide," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 5, pages 1-29.
    44. van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2004. "Optimal climate policy is a utopia: from quantitative to qualitative cost-benefit analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 385-393, April.
    45. Andries Hof & Chris Hope & Jason Lowe & Michael Mastrandrea & Malte Meinshausen & Detlef Vuuren, 2012. "The benefits of climate change mitigation in integrated assessment models: the role of the carbon cycle and climate component," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 897-917, August.
    46. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Targets for global climate policy: An overview," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 911-928.
    47. W. J. Wouter Botzen & Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh, 2009. "Bounded Rationality, Climate Risks, and Insurance: Is There a Market for Natural Disasters?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 85(2), pages 265-278.
    48. repec:hrv:faseco:33373344 is not listed on IDEAS
    49. 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.
    50. Gollier, Christian & Weitzman, Martin L., 2010. "How should the distant future be discounted when discount rates are uncertain?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 350-353, June.
    51. Gillingham, Kenneth & Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2008. "Modeling endogenous technological change for climate policy analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 2734-2753, November.
    52. Iverson, Terrence, 2012. "Communicating Trade-offs amid Controversial Science: Decision Support for Climate Policy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 74-90.
    53. Howarth, Richard B, 1998. " An Overlapping Generations Model of Climate-Economy Interactions," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(3), pages 575-591, September.
    54. Daily, Gretchen C. & Ehrlich, Paul R. & Mooney, Harold A. & Ehrlich, Anne H., 1991. "Greenhouse economics: learn before you leap," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-10, October.
    55. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
    56. Brouwer, Roy & Bateman, Ian J., 2005. "Benefits transfer of willingness to pay estimates and functions for health-risk reductions: a cross-country study," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 591-611, May.
    57. Nicholas Stern, 2013. "The Structure of Economic Modeling of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change: Grafting Gross Underestimation of Risk onto Already Narrow Science Models," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 838-859, September.
    58. David Anthoff & Richard Tol, 2014. "Climate policy under fat-tailed risk: an application of FUND," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 220(1), pages 223-237, September.
    59. Neumayer, Eric, 1999. "Global warming: discounting is not the issue, but substitutability is," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 33-43, January.
    60. Paul Ekins, 1995. "Rethinking the costs related to global warming: A survey of the issues," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 6(3), pages 231-277, October.
    61. repec:hrv:faseco:33373345 is not listed on IDEAS
    62. 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.
    63. Massimo Tavoni & Richard Tol, 2013. "Counting only the hits—a rejoinder," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 121(2), pages 139-141, November.
    64. Richard T. Woodward & Richard C. Bishop, 1997. "How to Decide When Experts Disagree: Uncertainty-Based Choice Rules in Environmental Policy," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(4), pages 492-507.
    65. Kousky, Carolyn & Kopp, Robert E. & Cooke, Roger M., 2011. "Risk premia and the social cost of carbon: A review," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 5, pages 1-24.
    66. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
    67. Ackerman, Frank & Munitz, Charles, 2012. "Climate damages in the FUND model: A disaggregated analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 219-224.
    68. D Demeritt & D Rothman, 1999. "Figuring the Costs of Climate Change: An Assessment and Critique," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 31(3), pages 389-408, March.
    69. Anthony C. Fisher & John V. Krutilla, 1975. "Resource Conservation, Environmental Preservation, and the Rate of Discount," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 89(3), pages 358-370.
    70. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
    71. William R. Cline, 2007. "Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 4037.
    72. Terry Barker & Douglas Crawford-Brown, 2013. "Are estimated costs of stringent mitigation biased?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 121(2), pages 129-138, November.
    73. Dietz, Simon, 2011. "High impact, low probability?: an empirical analysis of risk in the economics of climate change," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 38586, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    74. Arrow, K. & Cropper, M. & Gollier, C. & Groom, B. & Heal, G. & Newell, R. & Nordhaus, W. & Pindyck, R. & Pizer, W. & Portney, P. & Sterner, T. & Tol, R. S. J. & Weitzman, Martin L., 2013. "Determining Benefits and Costs for Future Generations," Scholarly Articles 12841963, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    75. Dietz, Simon, 2012. "The treatment of risk and uncertainty in the US social cost of carbon for regulatory impact analysis," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-12.
    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. Richard S J Tol, 2018. "The Economic Impacts of Climate Change," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 12(1), pages 4-25.
    2. W. Botzen & Jeroen Bergh, 2014. "Specifications of Social Welfare in Economic Studies of Climate Policy: Overview of Criteria and Related Policy Insights," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(1), pages 1-33, May.
    3. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Targets for global climate policy: An overview," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 911-928.
    4. Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Janda, Karel & Zilberman, David, 2015. "Selective reporting and the social cost of carbon," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 394-406.
    5. Davidson, Marc D., 2014. "Zero discounting can compensate future generations for climate damage," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 40-47.
    6. J. Farmer & Cameron Hepburn & Penny Mealy & Alexander Teytelboym, 2015. "A Third Wave in the Economics of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(2), pages 329-357, October.
    7. Hjort, Ingrid, 2016. "Potential Climate Risks in Financial Markets: A Literature Overview," Memorandum 01/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    8. Pezzey, John C.V. & Burke, Paul J., 2014. "Towards a more inclusive and precautionary indicator of global sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 141-154.
    9. Wei, Yi-Ming & Mi, Zhi-Fu & Huang, Zhimin, 2015. "Climate policy modeling: An online SCI-E and SSCI based literature review," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 57(PA), pages 70-84.
    10. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Sterner, Thomas, 2015. "Discounting and relative consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 19-33.
    11. Kousky, Carolyn & Kopp, Robert E. & Cooke, Roger M., 2011. "Risk premia and the social cost of carbon: A review," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 5, pages 1-24.
    12. Moritz A. Drupp & Martin C. Hänsel, 2021. "Relative Prices and Climate Policy: How the Scarcity of Nonmarket Goods Drives Policy Evaluation," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 168-201, February.
    13. Richard Tol, 2015. "Bootstraps for Meta-Analysis with an Application to the Impact of Climate Change," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 46(2), pages 287-303, August.
    14. Cameron Hepburn & Greer Gosnell, 2014. "Evaluating impacts in the distant future: cost–benefit analysis, discounting and the alternatives," Chapters, in: Giles Atkinson & Simon Dietz & Eric Neumayer & Matthew Agarwala (ed.), Handbook of Sustainable Development, chapter 9, pages 140-159, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Peter H. Howard & Thomas Sterner, 2017. "Few and Not So Far Between: A Meta-analysis of Climate Damage Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 68(1), pages 197-225, September.
    16. Armon Rezai & Frederick Van der Ploeg, 2016. "Intergenerational Inequality Aversion, Growth, and the Role of Damages: Occam's Rule for the Global Carbon Tax," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 493-522.
    17. Rick Van der Ploeg & Armon Rezai, 2015. "Intergenerational Inequality Aversion, Growth and the Role of Damages: Occam's rule for the global tax," Economics Series Working Papers OxCarre Research Paper 15, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    18. Fesselmeyer, Eric & Liu, Haoming & Salvo, Alberto, 2016. "How Do Households Discount over Centuries? Evidence from Singapore's Private Housing Market," IZA Discussion Papers 9862, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Matthew Adler & David Anthoff & Valentina Bosetti & Greg Garner & Klaus Keller & Nicolas Treich, 2016. "Priority for the Worse Off and the Social Cost of Carbon," CESifo Working Paper Series 6032, CESifo.
    20. 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.

    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:eee:ecolec:v:114:y:2015:i:c:p:33-46. 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: (Nithya Sathishkumar). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon .

    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 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.

    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.