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Discount rates, equity weights and the social cost of carbon

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  • Hope, Chris

Abstract

Equity weighting has been proposed as a way of allowing welfare equivalents to be included in the social cost of carbon since a dollar to a poor person is worth more than a dollar to a rich one. Here we use the PAGE2002 integrated assessment model to show that the social cost of carbon is higher without equity weights (an elasticity of marginal utility with respect to income of 0) than with them. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it comes about because of the logical link between equity weights and discount rates; as the elasticity goes from 0 to - 0.5 to - 1.0, the social rate of time preference rises, and the drop in present values that results far outweighs the small increase in impacts that equity weights bring.

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  • Hope, Chris, 2008. "Discount rates, equity weights and the social cost of carbon," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1011-1019, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:30:y:2008:i:3:p:1011-1019
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    1. 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.
    2. Richard S. J. Tol, 1999. "The Marginal Costs of Greenhouse Gas Emissions," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 61-81.
    3. Tol, Richard S. J., 2005. "The marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions: an assessment of the uncertainties," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(16), pages 2064-2074, November.
    4. 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.
    5. Plambeck, Erica L. & Hope, Chris & Anderson, John, 1997. "The model: Integrating the science and economics of global warming," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 77-101, March.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
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