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Metrics for Aggregating the Climate Effect of Different Emissions: A Unifying Framework

  • Tol, Richard S. J.

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Berntsen, Terje K.

    (CICERO - Center for International Climate and Environmental Research)

  • O'Neill, Brian C.

    (Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, National Center for Atmospheric Research P.O. Box 3000 Boulder, CO 80307 USA)

  • Fuglestvedt, Jan S.

    (CICERO ? Center for International Climate and Environmental Research ? Oslo, P.O. Box 1129 Blindern, N-0318 Oslo, NORWAY)

  • Shine, Keith P.

    (Department of Meteorology, University of Reading)

  • Balkanski, Yves

    (LSCE/IPSL, Laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ)

  • Makra, Laszlo

    (SZTE, University of Szeged, Hungary)

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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Paper provided by Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in its series Papers with number WP257.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp257
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  1. Kandlikar, Milind, 1995. "The relative role of trace gas emissions in greenhouse abatement policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 879-883, October.
  2. Kandlikar, Milind, 1996. "Indices for comparing greenhouse gas emissions: integrating science and economics," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 265-281, October.
  3. John Reilly & Kenneth Richards, 1993. "Climate change damage and the trace gas index issue," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 41-61, February.
  4. 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.
  5. Richard Schmalensee, 1993. "Comparing Greenhouse Gases for Policy Purposes," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 245-256.
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