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Sacrifice, Discounting and Climate Policy: Five Questions

  • Larry S. Karp

I offer a selective review of discounting and climate policy. Analytic and numerical models show that different assumptions greatly change the degree to which decisions about climate policy depend on the discount rate. I discuss a claim that standard models exaggerate the current generation’s sacrifices needed to internalize climate damages. This claim, if correct, affects the role of discounting. I argue that the assertion that the risk of catastrophic damage overwhelms discounting is unfounded. I show that the claim that we “view the world in perspective” implies hyperbolic rather than constant discounting.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2761.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2761
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  1. Karp, Larry & Tsur, Yacov, 2008. "Time perspective and climate change policy," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt04k4b21g, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  2. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
  3. Karp, Larry, 2005. "Global warming and hyperbolic discounting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 261-282, February.
  4. Traeger, Christian P., 2011. "Sustainability, limited substitutability, and non-constant social discount rates," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 215-228, September.
  5. Thomas Sterner & U. Martin Persson, 2008. "An Even Sterner Review: Introducing Relative Prices into the Discounting Debate," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 61-76, Winter.
  6. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
  7. Minh Ha-Duong & Nicolas Treich, 2004. "Risk aversion, intergenerational equity and climate change," Post-Print halshs-00000680, HAL.
  8. Armon Rezai & Duncan Foley & Lance Taylor, 2012. "Global warming and economic externalities," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 329-351, February.
  9. Fujii, Tomoki & Karp, Larry, 2008. "Numerical analysis of non-constant pure rate of time preference: A model of climate policy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 83-101, July.
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