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The influence of the specification of climate change damages on the social cost of carbon

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  • Kopp, Robert E.
  • Golub, Alexander
  • Keohane, Nathaniel O.
  • Onda, Chikara

Abstract

Drawing upon climate change damage specifications previously proposed in the literature that the authors have calibrated to a common level of damages at 2.5 C, the authors examine the effect upon the social cost of carbon (SCC) of varying damage specifications in a DICE-like integrated assessment model. They find that SCC estimates are highly sensitive to uncertainty in extrapolating damages to high temperatures at moderate-to-high levels of risk aversion, but only modestly so at low levels of risk aversion. While in the absence of risk aversion, all of the SCC estimates but one agree within a factor of two, with a moderate level of risk aversion included, the differences among estimates grow greatly. For example, one composite damage specification, combining elements of different literature-derived specifications and roughly taking into account calibration uncertainty, yields SCC values 32% higher than the standard quadratic DICE damage function in the absence of risk aversion. With a coefficient of relative risk aversion of 1.4, however, the same uncertain specification yields SCC values almost triple those of the standard function. The authors conclude that failure to consider damages uncertainty and risk aversion jointly can lead to significant underestimation of the SCC.

Suggested Citation

  • Kopp, Robert E. & Golub, Alexander & Keohane, Nathaniel O. & Onda, Chikara, 2012. "The influence of the specification of climate change damages on the social cost of carbon," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201213
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2012-13
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/57820/1/715346458.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Janda, Karel & Zilberman, David, 2015. "Selective reporting and the social cost of carbon," Energy Economics, Elsevier, pages 394-406.
    2. Richard S. J. Tol, 2015. "Economic impacts of climate change," Working Paper Series 7515, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    3. Crost, Benjamin & Traeger, Christian P., 2013. "Optimal climate policy: Uncertainty versus Monte Carlo," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 552-558.
    4. repec:spr:jenvss:v:7:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s13412-017-0436-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. McCubbin, Donald & Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2013. "Quantifying the health and environmental benefits of wind power to natural gas," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 429-441.
    6. Newbold, Stephen C. & Marten, Alex L., 2014. "The value of information for integrated assessment models of climate change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 111-123.
    7. Wiser, Ryan & Bolinger, Mark & Heath, Garvin & Keyser, David & Lantz, Eric & Macknick, Jordan & Mai, Trieu & Millstein, Dev, 2016. "Long-term implications of sustained wind power growth in the United States: Potential benefits and secondary impacts," Applied Energy, Elsevier, pages 146-158.
    8. Drupp, Moritz A., 2016. "Limits to substitution between ecosystem services and manufactured goods and implications for social discounting," Economics Working Papers 2016-05, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    9. Jensen, Svenn & Traeger, Christian P., 2014. "Optimal climate change mitigation under long-term growth uncertainty: Stochastic integrated assessment and analytic findings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 104-125.
    10. Elisabeth J. Moyer & Mark D. Woolley & Nathan J. Matteson & Michael J. Glotter & David A. Weisbach, 2014. "Climate Impacts on Economic Growth as Drivers of Uncertainty in the Social Cost of Carbon," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 401-425.
    11. Barbose, Galen & Wiser, Ryan & Heeter, Jenny & Mai, Trieu & Bird, Lori & Bolinger, Mark & Carpenter, Alberta & Heath, Garvin & Keyser, David & Macknick, Jordan & Mills, Andrew & Millstein, Dev, 2016. "A retrospective analysis of benefits and impacts of U.S. renewable portfolio standards," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 645-660.
    12. Robert Kopp & Bryan Mignone, 2013. "Circumspection, reciprocity, and optimal carbon prices," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 120(4), pages 831-843, October.
    13. Shindell, Drew T., 2013. "The social cost of atmospheric release," Economics Discussion Papers 2013-56, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    climate change; social cost of carbon; integrated assessment modeling;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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