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Climate Policy When the Distant Future Matters: Catastrophic Events with Hyperbolic Discounting

  • Karp, Larry
  • Tsur, Yacov

Low probability catastrophic climate change can have a significant influence on policy under hyperbolic discounting. We compare the set of Markov Perfect Equilibria (MPE) to the optimal policy under time-consistent commitment. For some initial levels of risk there are multiple MPE; these may involve either excessive or insufficient stabilization effort. These results imply that even if the free-rider problem amongst contemporaneous decision-makers were solved, there may remain a coordination problem amongst successive generations of decision-makers. A numerical example shows that under plausible conditions society should respond vigorously to the threat of climate change.

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Paper provided by Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series with number qt99n7v1bp.

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Date of creation: 02 Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:agrebk:qt99n7v1bp
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  1. Graciela Chichilnisky, 1996. "An axiomatic approach to sustainable development," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 231-257, April.
  2. Karp, Larry, 2004. "Non-Constant Discounting in Continuous Time," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt7pr05084, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  3. Tsur, Yacov & Zemel, Amos, 1996. "Accounting for global warming risks: Resource management under event uncertainty," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1289-1305.
  4. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Roumasset, James & Tse, Kinping, 1997. "Endogenous Substitution among Energy Resources and Global Warming," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1201-34, December.
  5. Karp, Larry, 2004. "Global Warming and Hyperbolic Discounting," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5zh730nc, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  6. Asheim, Geir & Buchholz, Wolfgang, 2003. "A General Approach to Welfare Measurement through National Income Accounting," Memorandum 32/2002, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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  8. Cropper, Maureen & Laibson, David, 1998. "The implications of hyperbolic discounting for project evaluation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1943, The World Bank.
  9. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  10. Tsur, Yacov & Zemel, Amos, 1998. "Pollution control in an uncertain environment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 967-975, June.
  11. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-74, December.
  12. Skiba, A K, 1978. "Optimal Growth with a Convex-Concave Production Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 527-39, May.
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  14. Wolfram Schlenker & W. Michael Hanemann & Anthony C. Fisher, 2006. "The Impact of Global Warming on U.S. Agriculture: An Econometric Analysis of Optimal Growing Conditions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 113-125, February.
  15. Martin L. Weitzman, 2001. "Gamma Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 260-271, March.
  16. Partha Dasgupta & Eric Maskin, 2005. "Uncertainty and Hyperbolic Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1290-1299, September.
  17. Graciela Chichilnisky & Geoffrey Heal, 1993. "Global Environmental Risks," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 65-86, Fall.
  18. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "The "Stern Review" on the Economics of Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 12741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Clarke, Harry R. & Reed, William J., 1994. "Consumption/pollution tradeoffs in an environment vulnerable to pollution-related catastrophic collapse," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 991-1010, September.
  20. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-67, May.
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