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Why economic dynamics matter in assessing climate change damages: Illustration on extreme events

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  • Hallegatte, Stephane
  • Hourcade, Jean-Charles
  • Dumas, Patrice

Abstract

Extreme events are one of the main channels through which climate and socio-economic systems interact, and it is likely that climate change will modify the probability distribution of the losses they generate. The long-term growth models used in climate change assessments, however, cannot capture the effects of such short-term shocks. To investigate this issue, a non-equilibrium dynamic model (NEDyM) is used to assess the macroeconomic consequences of extreme events. This exercise allowed us to define the Economic Amplification Ratio, as the ratio of the overall production loss due to an event to its direct costs. This ratio could be used to improve the cost-benefit analysis of prevention measures. We found also that, unlike a Solow-like model, NEDyM exhibits a bifurcation in GDP losses : for each value of the capacity to fund reconstruction, GDP losses remain moderate if the intensity and frequency of extremes remain under a threshold value, beyond which GDP losses increase sharply. This bifurcation may partly explain why some poor countries that experience repeated natural disasters cannot develop. Applied to the specific issue of climate change, this model suggests that changes in the distribution of extremes may entail significant GDP losses in absence of specific adaptation. It suggests, therefore, that to avoid inaccurately low assessments of damages, researchers must take into account the distribution of extremes instead of their average cost and make explicit assumptions on the organization of future economies.
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Suggested Citation

  • Hallegatte, Stephane & Hourcade, Jean-Charles & Dumas, Patrice, 2007. "Why economic dynamics matter in assessing climate change damages: Illustration on extreme events," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 330-340, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:62:y:2007:i:2:p:330-340
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    1. Charlotte Benson & Edward J. Clay, 2004. "Understanding the Economic and Financial Impacts of Natural Disasters," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15025.
    2. Stephen C Peck & Thomas J. Teisberg, 1992. "CETA: A Model for Carbon Emissions Trajectory Assessment," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 55-78.
    3. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
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    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Michal Kalecki, 1937. "A Theory of the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 77-97.
    8. Jean Charles Hourcade & Philippe Ambrosi & St├ęphane Hallegatte & Franck Lecocq & Patrice Dumas & Minh Ha-Duong, 2003. "Optimal control models and elicitation of attitudes towards climate damages," Post-Print halshs-00000966, HAL.
    9. Albala-Bertrand, J. M., 1993. "Political Economy of Large Natural Disasters: With Special Reference to Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287650.
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