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Catastrophe climatique irréversible, incertitude et progrès de la connaissance

Listed author(s):
  • Sébastien Rouillon

[fre] La politique du climat nécessite une décision en situation d'incertitude radicale. Ce document illustre ce débat en supposant l'existence d'un risque de catastrophe irréversible au-delà d'un seuil critique de pollution connu. Sans apprentissage, la décision optimale consiste à accepter le risque de catastrophe si le gain attendu correspondant dépasse le gain certain de la préservation. En toute rigueur, la stratégie optimale incorpore les perspectives d'amélioration des informations. L'enjeu devient alors de savoir si cela incite à durcir les mesures prises pour atténuer l'effet de serre, ou bien, au contraire, à les alléger. Notre analyse suggère que la réponse dépend du support de l'information attendue et de la capacité du décideur à influencer son délai d'acquisition. Si les signaux sont émis par l'environnement, ce délai peut être raccourci en accélérant le rythme d'accumulation des gaz à effet de serre, ce qui incite à polluer plus. Si l'arrivée des informations suit un processus autonome, l'objectif devient simplement de sélectionner le niveau de pollution optimum à l'instant d'arrivée de l'information. Alors, rien ne permet de trancher en faveur de (ou contre) l'existence d'un effet d'irréversibilité. [eng] Irreversible climatic catastrophe, uncertainty and progress of knowledge Climate policy daims a reflexion about public decisions under uncertainty. This work focuses on the case where a risk of catastrophe of unknown range is anticipated for pollution levels greater than a certain critical threshold. If constrained by the initial information, the best decision is to accept this risk when relevant expected welfare exceeds the certain welfare of preservation. In reality, the present best decision also bears with future information. The optimal strategy must take advantage of it. The question is then to know whether this incitates to pollute more or less today. Our analysis indicates that the answer depends upon the process of information arrival, and, therefore, upon the social planner ability to influence it. If the signals are emitted by the environment, the social planner can shorten the time until the arrival of future information, simply by accelerating the rate of accumulation of greenhouse gases. In such a case, learning incitates to pollute more. If the arrival of information follows an autonomous process, the social planner loses his ability to influence this delay and decides only the level of pollution when the information comes. In this case, it is impossible to determine whether or not an irreversibility effect exists.

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Article provided by Programme National Persée in its journal Revue économique.

Volume (Year): 52 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 61-90

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Handle: RePEc:prs:reveco:reco_0035-2764_2001_num_52_1_410301
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