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Integrated Assessment of Climate Catastrophes with Endogenous Uncertainty: Does the Risk of Ice Sheet Collapse Justify Precautionary Mitigation?

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  • Delavane B. Diaz

    (Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, USA)

Abstract

Greenhouse gas policies confront the trade-off between the costs of reducing emissions and the benefits of avoided climate change. The risk of uncertain and potentially irreversible catastrophes is an important issue related to the latter, and one that has not yet been well incorporated into economic models for climate change policy analysis. This paper demonstrates a multistage stochastic programming framework for catastrophe modeling with endogenous uncertainty, applied to a benchmark integrated assessment model. This study moves beyond recent catastrophe or tipping point studies with arbitrary risk, instead investigating the specific threat of the uncertain collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), characterized in accordance with recent expert elicitations, empirical results, and physical relationships. The stochastic DICE-WAIS model introduced here informs risk management strategies that balance uncertain future climate change impacts with the costs of mitigation investments today. This work finds that accounting for the consequences of the possible WAIS collapse in a stochastic setting with endogenous uncertainty leads to more stringent climate policy recommendations (increasing the CO2 control rate by an additional 4% of global emissions and raising the social cost of carbon by $10), reflecting the need to hedge against uncertainties with downside risk as well as pursue precautionary mitigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Delavane B. Diaz, 2015. "Integrated Assessment of Climate Catastrophes with Endogenous Uncertainty: Does the Risk of Ice Sheet Collapse Justify Precautionary Mitigation?," Working Papers 2015.64, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2015.64
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    Cited by:

    1. Delavane Diaz & Klaus Keller, 2016. "A Potential Disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Implications for Economic Analyses of Climate Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 607-611, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Climate Change Policy; Sea Level Rise; Ice Sheet Collapse; Endogenous Uncertainty; Stochastic Optimization; Greenhouse Gas Mitigation; Risk Management;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • 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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