Metrics for Aggregating the Climate Effect of Different Emissions: A Unifying Framework
Multi-gas approaches to climate change policies require a metric establishing ?equivalences? among emissions of various species. Climate scientists and economists have proposed four classes of such metrics and debated their relative merits. We present a unifying framework that clarifies the relationships among them. We show that the Global Warming Potential, used in international law to compare greenhouse gases, is a special case of the Global Damage Potential, assuming (1) a finite time horizon, (2) a zero discount rate, (3) constant atmospheric concentrations, and (4) impacts that are proportional to radiative forcing. We show that the Global Temperature change Potential is a special case of the Global Cost Potential, assuming (1) no induced technological change, and (2) a short-lived capital stock. We also show that the Global Cost Potential is a special case of the Global Damage Potential, assuming (1) zero damages below a threshold and (2) infinite damage after a threshold. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change uses the Global Warming Potential, a simplified cost-benefit concept, even though the UNFCCC frames climate policy as a cost-effectiveness problem and should therefore use the Global Cost Potential or its simplification, the Global Temperature Potential.
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- Richard S. Eckaus, 1992. "Comparing the Effects of Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Global Warming," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 25-36.
- John Reilly & Kenneth Richards, 1993. "Climate change damage and the trace gas index issue," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 41-61, February.
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- Kandlikar, Milind, 1995. "The relative role of trace gas emissions in greenhouse abatement policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 879-883, October.
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