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Energy Balance Climate Models, Damage Reservoirs and the Time Profile of Climate Change Policy


  • William Brock

    (University of Wisconsin, Department of Economics)

  • Gustav Engstrom

    (Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics)

  • Anastasios Xepapadeas

    (Athens University of Economics and Business)


A simplified energy balance climate model is considered with the global mean temperature as the state variable, and an endogenous ice line. The movements of the ice line towards the Poles are associated with damage reservoirs where initial damages are high and then eventually vanish as the ice caps vanish and the damage reservoir is exhausted. We couple this climate model with a simple economic growth model and we show that the endogenous ice line induces a nonlinearity. This nonlinearity when combined with two sources of damages - the conventional damages due to temperature increase and the reservoir damages - generates multiple steady states and Skiba points. It is shown that the policy ramp implied by this model calls for high mitigation now. Simulation results suggest that the policy ramp could be U-shaped instead of the monotonically increasing with low starting mitigation gradualist policy ramp.

Suggested Citation

  • William Brock & Gustav Engstrom & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2012. "Energy Balance Climate Models, Damage Reservoirs and the Time Profile of Climate Change Policy," Working Papers 2012.20, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2012.20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 2005. "Economic growth and the environment," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1219-1271 Elsevier.
    2. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, January.
    3. Lempert, Robert J. & Sanstad, Alan H. & Schlesinger, Michael E., 2006. "Multiple equilibria in a stochastic implementation of DICE with abrupt climate change," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5-6), pages 677-689, November.
    4. Elizabeth Stanton, 2011. "Negishi welfare weights in integrated assessment models: the mathematics of global inequality," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 417-432, August.
    5. William Brock & Gustav Engstrom & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2012. "Energy Balance Climate Models and the Spatial Structure of Optimal Mitigation Policies," Working Papers 2012.05, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. W.A. Brock & D. Starrett, 2003. "Managing Systems with Non-convex Positive Feedback," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 26(4), pages 575-602, December.
    7. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Desmet, Klaus & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2015. "On the spatial economic impact of global warming," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 16-37.

    More about this item


    Energy Balance Climate Models; Damage Reservoir; Ice Line; Permafrost; Heat Diffusion; Policy Ramp; Skiba Points;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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