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Optimal carbon mitigation strategy under non-linear feedback effects and in the presence of permafrost release trigger hazard


  • Ram Ranjan



The threat of release of methane sequestered in the circumpolar Arctic regions of the world creates the possibility of triggering additional feedback effects from the terrestrial and the deep ocean systems which could potentially add large amounts of carbon (C) into the atmosphere. This paper analyses the implications for C mitigation policy under the threats of a substantial permafrost methane release. Several insights emerge from the analysis. First, the presence of non-linear feedbacks creates a bifurcation zone in the C emissions-stock space, on one side of which large accumulations of atmospheric C materialize leading to significant damages. Second, the bifurcation line does not have a steep slope, implying that it would be possible to avoid falling on the wrong side of this zone even if the current atmospheric stock of C were higher than what they are today. Third, when the release of permafrost C is uncertain, there is benefit in reducing anthropogenic C more than what would be optimal under a certain release of the same. Fourth, higher abatement cost scenarios do not necessarily imply significantly reduced abatement efforts. On the contrary, abatement efforts, which are only reduced marginally under this scenario, ensure that long run carbon path is stabilized. This is done in order to avoid incurring substantial costs of abatement in the future when non-linear feedback effects kick in. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Ram Ranjan, 2014. "Optimal carbon mitigation strategy under non-linear feedback effects and in the presence of permafrost release trigger hazard," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 479-497, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:masfgc:v:19:y:2014:i:4:p:479-497
    DOI: 10.1007/s11027-012-9444-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:hrv:faseco:33373343 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Detlef Vuuren & Jason Lowe & Elke Stehfest & Laila Gohar & Andries Hof & Chris Hope & Rachel Warren & Malte Meinshausen & Gian-Kasper Plattner, 2011. "How well do integrated assessment models simulate climate change?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 255-285, January.
    3. Simon Dietz & Nicholas Stern, 2008. "Why Economic Analysis Supports Strong Action on Climate Change: A Response to the Stern Review's Critics," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 94-113, Winter.
    4. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
    5. Nordhaus, William D., 1993. "Rolling the 'DICE': an optimal transition path for controlling greenhouse gases," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 27-50, March.
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