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The climate beta

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  • Dietz, Simon
  • Gollier, Christian
  • Kessler, Louise

Abstract

How does climate-change mitigation affect the aggregate consumption risk borne by future generations? In other words, what is the ‘climate beta’? In this paper we argue using a combination of theory and integrated assessment modelling that the climate beta is positive and close to unity for maturities of up to about one hundred years. This is because the positive effect on the climate beta of uncertainty about exogenous, emissions-neutral technological progress overwhelms the negative effect on the climate beta of uncertainty about the carbon-climate-response, particularly the climate sensitivity, and the damage intensity of warming. Mitigating climate change therefore has no insurance value to hedge the aggregate consumption risk borne by future generations. On the contrary, it increases that risk, which justifies a relatively high discount rate on the expected benefits of emissions reductions. However, the stream of undiscounted expected benefits is also increasing in the climate beta, and this dominates the discounting effect so that overall the net present value of carbon emissions abatement is increasing in the climate beta.

Suggested Citation

  • Dietz, Simon & Gollier, Christian & Kessler, Louise, 2018. "The climate beta," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 258-274.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:258-274
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2017.07.005
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Spackman, 2017. "Social discounting: the SOC/STP divide," GRI Working Papers 182, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    2. Daniel Harenberg & Stefano Marelli & Bruno Sudret & Viktor Winschel, 2017. "Uncertainty Quantification and Global Sensitivity Analysis for Economic Models," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 17/265, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Beta; Climate change; Discounting; Integrated assessment; Mitigation; Risk; Social cost of carbon;

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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