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Abrupt positive feedback and the social cost of carbon

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  • van der Ploeg, Frederick

Abstract

Optimal climate policy should act in a precautionary fashion to deal with tipping points that occur at some future random moment. The optimal carbon tax should include an additional component on top of the conventional present discounted value of marginal global warming damages. This component increases with the sensitivity of the hazard to temperature or the stock of atmospheric carbon. If the hazard of a catastrophe is constant, no correction is needed of the usual Pigouvian tax. The results are applied to a tipping point resulting from an abrupt and irreversible release of greenhouse gases from the ocean floors and surface of the earth, which set in motion a positive feedback loop. Convex enough hazard functions cause overshooting of the carbon tax, but a linear hazard function gives rise to undershooting. A more convex hazard function and a high discount rate speed up adjustment.

Suggested Citation

  • van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2014. "Abrupt positive feedback and the social cost of carbon," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 28-41.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:67:y:2014:i:c:p:28-41
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2014.01.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard S. J. Tol, 2015. "Economic impacts of climate change," Working Paper Series 7515, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    2. Hjort, Ingrid, 2016. "Potential Climate Risks in Financial Markets: A Literature Overview," Memorandum 01/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    3. 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.
    4. Frederick Ploeg & Aart Zeeuw, 2016. "Non-cooperative and Cooperative Responses to Climate Catastrophes in the Global Economy: A North–South Perspective," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 65(3), pages 519-540, November.
    5. Lemoine, Derek & Traeger, Christian P., 2016. "Ambiguous tipping points," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PB), pages 5-18.
    6. Bommier, Antoine & Lanz, Bruno & Zuber, Stéphane, 2015. "Models-as-usual for unusual risks? On the value of catastrophic climate change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 1-22.
    7. Lucas Bretschger & Alexandra Vinogradova, 2014. "Going beyond tradition:Growth and Mitigation Policies with Uncertain Climate Damage," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 14/202, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    8. Lucas Bretschger & Alexandra Vinogradova, 2014. "Growth and Mitigation Policies with Uncertain Climate Damage," CESifo Working Paper Series 5085, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Elettra Agliardi & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2018. "Optimal Scheduling of Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Carbon Budgeting and Policy Design," DEOS Working Papers 1808, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    10. de Zeeuw, Aart J. & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2014. "Climate Tipping and Economic Growth: Precautionary Saving and the Social Cost of Carbon," CEPR Discussion Papers 9982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social cost of carbon; Tipping point; Positive feedback; Climate;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)

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