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Checking the Price Tag on Catastrophe: The Social Cost of Carbon Under Non-linear Climate Response

  • Ceronsky, Megan
  • Anthoff, David
  • Hepburn, Cameron
  • Tol, Richard S. J.

Research into the social cost of carbon emissions ? the marginal social damage from a tonne of emitted carbon ? has tended to focus on "best guess" scenarios. Such scenarios generally ignore the potential for low-probability, high-damage events, which are critically important to determining optimal climate policy. This paper uses the FUND integrated assessment model to investigate the influence of three types of low-probability, high-impact climate responses on the social cost of carbon: the collapse of the Atlantic Ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation; large scale dissociation of oceanic methane hydrates; and climate sensitivities above "best guess" levels. We find that incorporating these events can increase the social cost of carbon by a factor of over 3.

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Paper provided by Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in its series Papers with number WP392.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp392
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  1. Gjerde, Jon & Grepperud, Sverre & Kverndokk, Snorre, 1999. "Optimal climate policy under the possibility of a catastrophe," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 289-317, August.
  2. Tol, Richard S. J., 2001. "Equitable cost-benefit analysis of climate change policies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 71-85, January.
  3. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
  4. Richard S.J. Tol, 2002. "Emission Abatement Versus Development As Strategies To Reduce Vulnerability To Climate Change: An Application Of Fund," Working Papers FNU-12, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2002.
  5. Tol, Richard S. J., 2005. "The marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions: an assessment of the uncertainties," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(16), pages 2064-2074, November.
  6. Baranzini, Andrea & Chesney, Marc & Morisset, Jacques, 2003. "The impact of possible climate catastrophes on global warming policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 691-701, June.
  7. Kolstad, Charles D., 1994. "George Bush versus Al Gore : Irreversibilities in greenhouse gas accumulation and emission control investment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(9), pages 771-778, September.
  8. P. Link & Richard Tol, 2011. "Estimation of the economic impact of temperature changes induced by a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation: an application of FUND," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 287-304, January.
  9. P. Michael Link & Richard S.J. Tol, 2004. "Possible Economic Impacts of a Shutdown of the Thermohaline Circulation: an Application of FUND," Working Papers FNU-42, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2004.
  10. 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.
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