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A balance of questions: what can we ask of climate change economics?

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Abstract

The standard approach to the economics of climate change, which has its best known implementation in Nordhaus's DICE and RICE models (well described in Nordhaus's 2008 book, A Question of Balance) is not well equipped to deal with the possibility of catastrophe, since we are unable to evaluate a risk averse representative agent's expected utility when there is any significant probability of zero consumption. Whilst other authors attempt to develop new tools with which to address these problems, the simple solution proposed in this paper is to ask a question that the currently available tools of climate change economics are capable of answering. Rather than having agents optimally choosing a path (that divers from the recommendations of climate scientists) within models which cannot capture the essential features of the problem, I argue that economic models should be used to determine the savings and investment paths which implement climate targets that have been suggested in the physical science literature.

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  • David Comerford, 2013. "A balance of questions: what can we ask of climate change economics?," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 216, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:216
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    climate change; catastrophe; optimal policy; alternative energy investment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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