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Equity weighting and the marginal damage costs of climate change

  • Anthoff, David
  • Hepburn, Cameron
  • Tol, Richard S.J.

Climate change would impact different countries differently, and different countries have different levels of development. Equity-weighted estimates of the (marginal) impact of greenhouse gas emissions reflect these differences. Equity-weighted estimates of the marginal damage cost of carbon dioxide emissions are substantially higher than estimates without equity-weights; equity-weights may also change the sign of the social cost estimates. Equity weights need to be normalised. Our estimates differ by two orders of magnitude depending on the region of normalisation. A discounting error of equity weighted social cost of carbon estimates in earlier work (Tol, Energy Journal, 1999), led to an error of a factor two. Equity-weighted estimates are sensitive to the resolution of the impact estimates. Depending on the assumed intra-regional income distribution, estimates may be more than twice as high if national rather than regional impacts are aggregated. The assumed scenario is important too, not only because different scenarios have different emissions and hence warming, but also because different scenarios have different income differences, different growth rates, and different vulnerabilities. Because of this, variations in the assumed inequity aversion have little effect on the marginal damage cost in some scenarios, and a large effect in other scenarios.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (January)
Pages: 836-849

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:3:p:836-849
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. Lange, Andreas & Vogt, Carsten & Ziegler, Andreas, 2006. "On the Importance of Equity in International Climate Policy: An Empirical Analysis," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-42, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. Tol, Richard S. J., 1996. "The damage costs of climate change towards a dynamic representation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 67-90, October.
  3. Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2005. "Distributional Weights in Cost-Benefit Analysis—Should We Forget about Them?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(3).
  4. Christian Azar, 1999. "Weight Factors in Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(3), pages 249-268, April.
  5. David Pearce & Ben Groom & Cameron Hepburn & Phoebe Koundouri, 2003. "Valuing the Future," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 4(2), pages 121-141, April.
  6. Samuel Fankhauser & Richard Tol & DAVID Pearce, 1997. "The Aggregation of Climate Change Damages: a Welfare Theoretic Approach," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(3), pages 249-266, October.
  7. Robin Boadway, 1974. "Integrating Equity and Efficiency in Applied Welfare Economics," Working Papers 163, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  8. P. Michael Link & Richard S.J. Tol, 2004. "Possible Economic Impacts of a Shutdown of the Thermohaline Circulation: an Application of FUND," Working Papers FNU-42, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2004.
  9. Mirrlees, J. A., 1978. "Social benefit-cost analysis and the distribution of income," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 131-138, February.
  10. Richard S.J. Tol, 2002. "Emission Abatement Versus Development As Strategies To Reduce Vulnerability To Climate Change: An Application Of Fund," Working Papers FNU-12, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2002.
  11. David Anthoff & Richard S.J. Tol, 2007. "On International Equity Weights And National Decision Making On Climate Change," Working Papers FNU-127, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Feb 2007.
  12. Azar, Christian & Sterner, Thomas, 1996. "Discounting and distributional considerations in the context of global warming," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-184, November.
  13. 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.
  14. Richard S.J. Tol, 2006. "Multi-Gas Emission Reduction for Climate Change Policy: An Application of Fund," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 235-250.
  15. 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.
  16. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
  17. Claudia Kemfert & Richard S.J. Tol, 2001. "Equity, International Trade and Climate Policy," Working Papers FNU-5, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jan 2001.
  18. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change. Part 1: Benchmark Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(1), pages 47-73, January.
  19. Selden, Larry, 1979. "An OCE Analysis of the Effect of Uncertainty on Saving under Risk Preference Independence," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 73-82, January.
  20. Wilfred Beckerman & Cameron Hepburn, 2007. "Ethics of the Discount Rate in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 8(1), pages 187-210, January.
  21. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(2), pages 135-160, February.
  22. Tol, Richard S. J., 2001. "Equitable cost-benefit analysis of climate change policies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 71-85, January.
  23. Shiell, Leslie, 2003. "Descriptive, prescriptive and second-best approaches to the control of global greenhouse gas emissions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1431-1452, August.
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