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Figuring the costs of climate change: an assessment and critique

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  • D Demeritt
  • D Rothman

Abstract

In this paper we examine the evidence for the IPCC (IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change) estimate that the costs of global climate changewill be on the order of 1.5 - 2.0% of world gross domestic product (GDP). Although this estimate is widely andauthoritatively repeated, it rests on a handful of preliminary studies, chiefly of the United States and performed by a select group ofeconomists. We examine the methods and assumptions of these studies andconsider the social and political commitments built into their analyticaltechniques. We conclude that the prevailing methods of economic damageassessment and valuation provide a highly conservative estimate of thepotential costs and risks of future climate change. We suggest that theIPCC scientific assessment process has been organized in such a way asto foreclose public debate about the moral and political judgments builtinto the technical details of its reports.

Suggested Citation

  • D Demeritt & D Rothman, 1999. "Figuring the costs of climate change: an assessment and critique," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 31(3), pages 389-408, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:31:y:1999:i:3:p:389-408
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    Cited by:

    1. van den Bergh, J.C.J.M. & Botzen, W.J.W., 2015. "Monetary valuation of the social cost of CO2 emissions: A critical survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 33-46.
    2. Creedy, John & Wurzbacher, Anke D., 2001. "The economic value of a forested catchment with timber, water and carbon sequestration benefits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 71-83, July.
    3. Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh, 2004. "Evolutionary Analysis of the Relationship between Economic Growth, Environmental Quality and Resource Scarcity," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-048/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Larson, Donald F. & Ambrosi, Philippe & Dinar, Ariel & Rahman, Shaikh Mahfuzur & Entler, Rebecca, 2008. "Carbon markets, institutions, policies, and research," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4761, The World Bank.
    5. van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2004. "Optimal climate policy is a utopia: from quantitative to qualitative cost-benefit analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 385-393, April.

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