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Weight Factors in Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change

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  • Christian Azar

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Abstract

Equity considerations may justify the use of weight factors when estimating the costs of climate change. This paper reviews different weight factors that have been used in the climate economics literature. Based on a simple model, it is shown that although the different weight factors imply substantially different cost-damage estimates, they actually yield the same optimal emission reductions. This paradox is explained by the fact that some of the approaches require that also the abatement costs are weighted – and this offsets the effect of the diverging cost-damage estimates. The model is then used to analyse the importance weighting may have on the overall cost-benefit analysis. At present, when most of the global emissions of (fossil) CO2 originate from the industrialised countries, the global optimal emissions are considerably lower if costs are weighted. However, the more the emissions in developing countries grow, the less important becomes the introduction of weight factors in cost-benefit analysis of climate change for the global emission reductions, in the model developed here. On a regional level, the introduction of weight factors continues to play an important role, implying substantially lower emissions in the rich region and slightly higher (!) in the poor. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Azar, 1999. "Weight Factors in Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(3), pages 249-268, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:13:y:1999:i:3:p:249-268
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1008229225527
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David Anthoff & Robert Nicholls & Richard Tol, 2010. "The economic impact of substantial sea-level rise," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 321-335, April.
    2. Kverndokk, Snorre & Rose, Adam, 2008. "Equity and Justice in Global Warming Policy," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 2(2), pages 135-176, October.
    3. repec:wsi:ccexxx:v:01:y:2010:i:01:n:s2010007810000029 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Shun-ichiro Bessho & Masayoshi Hayashi, 2013. "Estimating the Social Marginal Cost of Public Funds," Public Finance Review, , vol. 41(3), pages 360-385, May.
    5. David Anthoff & Richard Tol, 2009. "The Impact of Climate Change on the Balanced Growth Equivalent: An Application of FUND," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 351-367, July.
    6. Emilio Padilla, 2002. "Limitations and biases of conventional analysis of climate change. Towards an analysis coherent with sustainable development," Working Papers wp0206, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    7. Anthoff, David & Hepburn, Cameron & Tol, Richard S.J., 2009. "Equity weighting and the marginal damage costs of climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 836-849, January.
    8. Richard S.J. Tol & Samuel Fankhauser & Richard G. Richels & Joel B. Smith, 2000. "How Much Damage Will Climate Change Do? Recent Estimates," Working Papers FNU-2, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Sep 2000.
    9. Richard S.J. Tol, 2003. "The Marginal Costs Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions: An Assessment Of The Uncertainties," Working Papers FNU-19, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2003.
    10. Wietze Lise & Richard S.J. Tol, 2000. "Impact of Climate on Tourist Demand," Working Papers FNU-1, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Aug 2000.
    11. Anthoff, David & Tol, Richard S.J., 2010. "On international equity weights and national decision making on climate change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 14-20, July.
    12. Lecocq, Franck & Hourcade, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Equitable provision of long-term public goods: the role of negotiation mandates," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3180, The World Bank.
    13. Yamaguchi, Rintaro, 2012. "Discounting, Distribution and Disaggregation," MPRA Paper 46322, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Richard S.J. Tol & Thomas E. Downing & Samuel Fankhauser & Richard G. Richels & Joel B. Smith, 2001. "Progress In Estimating The Marginal Costs Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Working Papers FNU-4, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jan 2001.
    15. Franck Lecocq & Jean-Charles Hourcade, 2012. "Unspoken ethical issues in the climate affair: Insights from a theoretical analysis of negotiation mandates," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(2), pages 445-471, February.
    16. 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.
    17. Leimbach, Marian, 2003. "Equity and carbon emissions trading: a model analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(10), pages 1033-1044, August.
    18. Dritan Osmani, 2013. "Valuing Equally the Environmental Goods in Rich and Poor Countries in a Post-Kyoto World," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 7(2), pages 073-099, July.
    19. Elizabeth Stanton, 2011. "Negishi welfare weights in integrated assessment models: the mathematics of global inequality," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 417-432, August.
    20. Christian Azar, 1998. "Are Optimal CO 2 Emissions Really Optimal?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 301-315, April.
    21. David Anthoff & Robert J. Nicholls & Richard S.J. Tol, 2007. "Sea Level Rise And Equity Weighting," Working Papers FNU-136, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2007.
    22. Richard S. J. Tol, 2010. "International Inequity Aversion And The Social Cost Of Carbon," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 1(01), pages 21-32.
    23. Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2000. "On the Value of Life in Rich and Poor Countries and Distributional Weights Beyond Utilitarianism," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 17(3), pages 299-310, November.
    24. Onno J. Kuik & Barbara Bucher & Michela Catenacci & Etem Karakaya & Richard S.J. Tol, 2006. "Methodological aspects of recent climate change damage cost studies," Working Papers FNU-122, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Dec 2006.

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