06-07 “The Economics of Inaction on Climate Change: A Sensitivity Analysis”
Economic models of climate change often take the problem seriously, but paradoxically conclude that the optimal policy is to do almost nothing about it. We explore this paradox as seen in the widely used DICE model. Three aspects of that model, involving the discount rate, the assumed benefits of moderate warming, and the treatment of the latest climate science, are sufficient to explain the timidity of the model's optimal policy recommendation. With modifications to those three points, DICE shows that the optimal policy is a much higher and rapidly rising marginal carbon price; that higher carbon price has a greater effect on physical measures of climate impacts. Our modifications exhibit nonlinear interactions; at least at low discount rates, there is synergy between individual changes to the model. At low discount rates, the inherent uncertainty about future damages looms larger in the analysis, rendering long-run economic modeling less useful. Our analysis highlights the sensitivity of the model to three debatable assumptions; it does not, and could not, lead to a more reliably “optimal” cost of carbon. Cost-effectiveness analysis, focusing on the generally shorter-term cost side of the problem, reduces the economic paradoxes of the long run, and may make a greater contribution than economic optimization modeling.
|Date of creation:|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 44 Teele Avenue Medford, MA 02155|
Web page: http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hall, Darwin C. & Behl, Richard J., 2006. "Integrating economic analysis and the science of climate instability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 442-465, May.
- Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(2), pages 135-160, February.
- Keller, Klaus & Bolker, Benjamin M. & Bradford, D.F.David F., 2004. "Uncertain climate thresholds and optimal economic growth," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 723-741, July.
- Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2004. "Uncertain discount rates in climate policy analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 519-529, March.
- 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.
- Heal, G., 1990. "The Economics Of Networks," Papers fb-_90-09, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
- Rehdanz, Katrin & Maddison, David, 2005.
"Climate and happiness,"
Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 111-125, January.
- Howarth, Richard B & Norgaard, Richard B, 1992. "Environmental Valuation under Sustainable Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 473-77, May.
- Richard B. Howarth, 2003. "Discounting and Uncertainty in Climate Change Policy Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(3), pages 369-381.
- David Pearce & Ben Groom & Cameron Hepburn & Phoebe Koundouri, 2003. "Valuing the Future," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 4(2), pages 121-141, April.
- Neumayer, Eric, 1999. "Global warming: discounting is not the issue, but substitutability is," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 33-43, January.
- Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
- DeCanio, Stephen J. & Niemann, Paul, 2006. "Equity effects of alternative assignments of global environmental rights," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 546-559, April.
- Schultz, Peter A & Kasting, James F, 1997. "Optimal reductions in CO2 emissions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 491-500, April.
- Loomis, John B. & White, Douglas S., 1996. "Economic benefits of rare and endangered species: summary and meta-analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 197-206, September.
- Minh Ha-Duong & Nicolas Treich, 2004.
"Risk aversion, intergenerational equity and climate change,"
- Minh Ha-Duong & Nicolas Treich, 2004. "Risk Aversion, Intergenerational Equity and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 28(2), pages 195-207, June.
- William R. Cline, 1992. "Economics of Global Warming, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 39, December.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dae:daepap:06-07. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Erin Coutts)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.