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What really matters: Discounting, technological change and sustainable climate


  • Müller-Fürstenberger, Georg
  • Stephan, Gunter


This paper discusses the interplay between the choice of the discount rate, greenhouse gas mitigation and endogenous technological change. Neglecting the issue of uncertainty it is shown that the Green Golden Rule stock of atmospheric carbon is uniquely determined, but is not affected by technological change. More generally it is shown analytically within the framework of a reduced model of integrated assessment that the optimal stationary stocks of atmospheric carbon depend on the choice of the discount rate, but are independent of the stock of technological knowledge. These results are then reinforced numerically in a fully specified integrated assessment analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Müller-Fürstenberger, Georg & Stephan, Gunter, 2011. "What really matters: Discounting, technological change and sustainable climate," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 978-987, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:5:p:978-987

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Birol, Fatih & Keppler, Jan Horst, 2000. "Prices, technology development and the rebound effect," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6-7), pages 457-469, June.
    2. Brannlund, Runar & Ghalwash, Tarek & Nordstrom, Jonas, 2007. "Increased energy efficiency and the rebound effect: Effects on consumption and emissions," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
    3. Burmeister, Edwin & Turnovsky, Stephen J, 1972. "Capital Deepening Response in an Economy with Heterogeneous Capital Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 842-853, December.
    4. Manne, Alan & Mendelsohn, Robert & Richels, Richard, 1995. "MERGE : A model for evaluating regional and global effects of GHG reduction policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 17-34, January.
    5. Kelly C. de Bruin & Rob B. Dellink & Richard S.J. Tol, 2007. "AD-DICE: an implementation of adaptation in the DICE model," Working Papers FNU-126, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Feb 2007.
    6. Chichilnisky, Graciela & Heal, Geoffrey & Beltratti, Andrea, 1995. "The Green Golden Rule," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 175-179, August.
    7. Vollebergh, Herman R.J. & Kemfert, Claudia, 2005. "The role of technological change for a sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2-3), pages 133-147, August.
    8. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Mathai, Koshy, 2000. "Optimal CO2 Abatement in the Presence of Induced Technological Change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-38, January.
    9. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10972 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
    11. Bernstein, Jeffrey I. & Mamuneas, Theofanis P., 2006. "R&D depreciation, stocks, user costs and productivity growth for US R&D intensive industries," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 70-98, January.
    12. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
    13. Stephan, Gunter & Muller-Furstenberger, Georg, 1998. "Discounting and the Economic Costs of Altruism in Greenhouse Gas Abatement," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 321-338.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anderson, Blake & M'Gonigle, Michael, 2012. "Does ecological economics have a future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 37-48.


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