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Estimating the social cost of non-CO2 GHG emissions: Methane and nitrous oxide

  • Marten, Alex L.
  • Newbold, Stephen C.

Many estimates of the social cost of CO2 emissions (SCCO2) can be found in the climate economics literature. However, to date few estimates of the social costs of other greenhouse gases have been published, and most are not comparable to current estimates of the SCCO2. We construct an integrated assessment model that combines MAGICC and economic components from DICE to estimate the social costs of CO2, CH4, and N2O for the years 2010–2050, using assumptions similar to the recent U.S. government interagency SCC working group. We compare our estimates of the social costs for non-CO2 gases to those produced using the SCCO2 to value “CO2-equivalent” emissions, calculated using global warming potentials (GWPs). We examine the estimation error associated with using GWPs for single- and multi-gas abatement policies. In both cases the error can be large, so estimates of the social costs of these gases should be used whenever possible. However, if direct estimates are not available the value of reductions estimated using GWPs will typically have lower absolute errors than default estimates of zero, and provide lower bounds of the abatement benefits.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 51 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 957-972

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:51:y:2012:i:c:p:957-972
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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  1. Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
  2. 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.
  3. Pizer, William & Newell, Richard, 2000. "Discounting the Distant Future: How Much Do Uncertain Rates Increase Valuations?," Discussion Papers dp-00-45, Resources For the Future.
  4. Kandlikar, Milind, 1996. "Indices for comparing greenhouse gas emissions: integrating science and economics," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 265-281, October.
  5. Narita, Daiju & Tol, Richard S. J. & Anthoff, David, 2009. "Economic Costs of Extratropical Storms Under Climate Change: An Application of FUND," Papers WP274, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  6. 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.
  7. Kandlikar, Milind, 1995. "The relative role of trace gas emissions in greenhouse abatement policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 879-883, October.
  8. John Reilly & Kenneth Richards, 1993. "Climate change damage and the trace gas index issue," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 41-61, February.
  9. 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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