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Did the Stern Review underestimate US and global climate damages?


  • Ackerman, Frank
  • Stanton, Elizabeth A.
  • Hope, Chris
  • Alberth, Stephane


The Stern Review received widespread attention for its innovative approach to the economics of climate change when it appeared in 2006, and generated controversies that have continued to this day. One key controversy concerns the magnitude of the expected impacts of climate change. Stern's estimates, based on results from the PAGE2002 model, sounded substantially greater than those produced by many other models, leading several critics to suggest that Stern had inflated his damage figures. We reached the opposite conclusion in a recent application of PAGE2002 in a study of the costs to the US economy of inaction on climate change. This article describes our revisions to the PAGE estimates, and explains our conclusion that the model runs used in the Stern Review may well underestimate US and global damages. Stern's estimates from PAGE2002 implied that mean business-as-usual damages in 2100 would represent just 0.4 percent of GDP for the United States and 2.2 percent of GDP for the world. Our revisions and reinterpretation of the PAGE model imply that climate damages in 2100 could reach 2.6 percent of GDP for the United States and 10.8 percent for the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Ackerman, Frank & Stanton, Elizabeth A. & Hope, Chris & Alberth, Stephane, 2009. "Did the Stern Review underestimate US and global climate damages?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2717-2721, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:7:p:2717-2721

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wahba, Mohammed & Hope, Chris, 2006. "The marginal impact of carbon dioxide under two scenarios of future emissions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(17), pages 3305-3316, November.
    2. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
    3. Richard S. J. Tol & Gary W. Yohe, 2006. "A Review of the Stern Review," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(4), pages 233-250, October.
    4. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
    5. Sir Ian Byatt & Bob Carter & Ian Castles & Chris de Freitas & Indur M. Goklany & David Henderson & David Holland & Lord Lawson of Blaby & Richard S. Lindzen & Ross McKitrick & Julian Morris & Sir Alan, 2006. "The Stern Review: A Dual Critique," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(4), pages 165-232, October.
    6. Alberth, Stephan & Hope, Chris, 2007. "Climate modelling with endogenous technical change: Stochastic learning and optimal greenhouse gas abatement in the PAGE2002 model," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 1795-1807, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan-Carlos Ciscar & László Szabó & Denise Regemorter & Antonio Soria, 2012. "The integration of PESETA sectoral economic impacts into the GEM-E3 Europe model: methodology and results," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 112(1), pages 127-142, May.
    2. Pycroft, Jonathan & Vergano, Lucia & Hope, Chris & Paci, Daniele & Ciscar, Juan Carlos, 2011. "A tale of tails: Uncertainty and the social cost of carbon dioxide," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 5, pages 1-29.
    3. Jim Davies & James MacGee & Jacob Wibe, 2011. "The Impact of Climate Change and Climate Policy on the Canadian Economy," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20112, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
    4. Karl Aiginger, 2016. "Making ambitious green goals compatible with economic dynamics by a strategic approach," WWWforEurope Policy Paper series 30, WWWforEurope.
    5. Ackerman, Frank & Stanton, Elizabeth A. & Bueno, Ramón, 2010. "Fat tails, exponents, extreme uncertainty: Simulating catastrophe in DICE," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1657-1665, June.
    6. Juan-Carlos Ciscar & Antonio Soria & Clare M. Goodess & Ole B. Christensen & Ana Iglesias & Luis Garrote & Marta Moneo & Sonia Quiroga & Luc Feyen & Rutger Dankers & Robert Nicholls & Julie Richards &, 2009. "Climate change impacts in Europe. Final report of the PESETA research project," JRC Working Papers JRC55391, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    7. Hahn, W. Andreas & Härtl, Fabian & Irland, Lloyd C. & Kohler, Christoph & Moshammer, Ralf & Knoke, Thomas, 2014. "Financially optimized management planning under risk aversion results in even-flow sustained timber yield," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 30-41.
    8. Laurie Johnson & Chris Hope, 2012. "The social cost of carbon in U.S. regulatory impact analyses: an introduction and critique," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 2(3), pages 205-221, September.
    9. Hope, Chris W., 2011. "The social cost of CO2 from the PAGE09 model," Economics Discussion Papers 2011-39, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    10. Alemu Mekonnen, 2014. "Economic Costs of Climate Change and Climate Finance with a Focus on Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 23(suppl_2), pages 50-82.
    11. Grey, F., 2017. "Corporate lobbying for environmental protection," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1732, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.


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