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Optimal global carbon management with ocean sequestration

  • Wilfried Rickels
  • Thomas S. Lontzek

We investigate the socially optimal intervention in the global carbon cycle. Limiting factors are (i) increasing atmospheric carbon concentration due to fossil fuel-related carbon emissions, and (ii) the inertia of the global carbon cycle itself. Accordingly, we explicitly include the largest non-atmospheric carbon reservoir, the ocean, to achieve a better representation of the global carbon cycle than the proportional-decay assumption usually resorted to in economic models. We also investigate the option to directly inject CO 2 into the deep ocean (a form of carbon sequestration), deriving from this a critical level for ocean sequestration costs. Above this level, ocean sequestration is merely a temporary option; below it, ocean sequestration is the long-term option permitting extended use of fossil fuels. The latter alternative involves higher atmospheric stabilization levels. In this connection it should be noted that the efficiency of ocean sequestration depends on the time-preference and the inertia of the carbon cycle. Copyright 2012 Oxford University Press 2011 All rights reserved, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 64 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 323-349

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:64:y:2012:i:2:p:323-349
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  1. Toman, Michael A. & Withagen, Cees, 2000. "Accumulative pollution, "clean technology," and policy design," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 367-384, October.
  2. Olli Tahvonen, 1997. "Fossil Fuels, Stock Externalities, and Backstop Technology," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 855-74, November.
  3. Forster, Bruce A., 1975. "Optimal pollution control with a nonconstant exponential rate of decay," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-6, September.
  4. Farzin, Y H & Tahvonen, O, 1996. "Global Carbon Cycle and the Optimal Time Path of a Carbon Tax," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 515-36, October.
  5. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3107026 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Tahvonen, Olli & Withagen, Cees, 1996. "Optimality of irreversible pollution accumulation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(9-10), pages 1775-1795.
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