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Modeling Uncertainty in Climate Change: A Multi-Model Comparison


  • Kenneth Gillingham

    (Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA)

  • William Nordhaus

    (Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA)

  • David Anthoff

    (University of California, Berkeley, USA)

  • Valentina Bosetti

    (Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)

  • Haewon McJeon

    (PNNL, College Park, Maryland, USA)

  • Geoffrey Blanford

    (EPRI, USA)

  • Peter Christensen

    (Aarhus University, Denmark)

  • John Reilly

    (MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA)

  • Paul Sztorc

    (Yale University, New Haven, USA)


The economics of climate change involves a vast array of uncertainties, complicating both the analysis and development of climate policy. This study presents the results of the first comprehensive study of uncertainty in climate change using multiple integrated assessment models. The study looks at model and parametric uncertainties for population, total factor productivity, and climate sensitivity. It estimates the pdfs of key output variables, including CO2 concentrations, temperature, damages, and the social cost of carbon (SCC). One key finding is that parametric uncertainty is more important than uncertainty in model structure. Our resulting pdfs also provide insights on tail events.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Gillingham & William Nordhaus & David Anthoff & Valentina Bosetti & Haewon McJeon & Geoffrey Blanford & Peter Christensen & John Reilly & Paul Sztorc, 2016. "Modeling Uncertainty in Climate Change: A Multi-Model Comparison," Working Papers 2016.13, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2016.13

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    Cited by:

    1. William Nordhaus, 2018. "Evolution of modeling of the economics of global warming: changes in the DICE model, 1992–2017," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 148(4), pages 623-640, June.
    2. Ikefuji, Masako & Laeven, Roger J.A. & Magnus, Jan R. & Muris, Chris, 2020. "Expected utility and catastrophic risk in a stochastic economy–climate model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 214(1), pages 110-129.
    3. Rachel E. Baker, 0. "Climate change drives increase in modeled HIV prevalence," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-16.
    4. William Nordhaus, 2018. "Projections and Uncertainties about Climate Change in an Era of Minimal Climate Policies," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 333-360, August.
    5. Lamperti, F. & Dosi, G. & Napoletano, M. & Roventini, A. & Sapio, A., 2018. "Faraway, So Close: Coupled Climate and Economic Dynamics in an Agent-based Integrated Assessment Model," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 315-339.
    6. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Felix Kubler & Andrey Polbin & Simon Scheidegger, 2020. "Pareto-Improving Carbon-Risk Taxation," NBER Working Papers 26919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. William D. Nordhaus & Andrew Moffat, 2017. "A Survey of Global Impacts of Climate Change: Replication, Survey Methods, and a Statistical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 23646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Rezai, Armon & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2017. "Climate policies under climate model uncertainty: Max-min and min-max regret," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S1), pages 4-16.
    9. Elmar Kriegler & Ioanna Mouratiadou & Gunnar Luderer & Jae Edmonds & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2016. "Introduction to the RoSE special issue on the impact of economic growth and fossil fuel availability on climate protection," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 1-6, May.
    10. Marco Letta & Richard S. J. Tol, 2019. "Weather, Climate and Total Factor Productivity," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 73(1), pages 283-305, May.
    11. Bovari, Emmanuel & Giraud, Gaël & Mc Isaac, Florent, 2018. "Coping With Collapse: A Stock-Flow Consistent Monetary Macrodynamics of Global Warming," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 383-398.
    12. Jing Wu & Jean-Claude Thill, 2018. "Climate change coalition formation and equilibrium strategies in mitigation games in the post-Kyoto Era," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 573-598, August.
    13. Sergey Paltsev, 2016. "Energy Scenarios: The Value and Limits of Scenario Analysis," EcoMod2016 9371, EcoMod.
    14. William D. Nordhaus, 2017. "Evolution of Assessments of the Economics of Global Warming: Changes in the DICE model, 1992 – 2017," NBER Working Papers 23319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Gaël Giraud & Florent MCISAAC & Sarah BOTTON & Emmanuel Bovari, 2018. "Carbon Pricing and Global Warming: A Stock-flow Consistent Macro-dynamic Approach," Working Paper 0a6be926-7c78-4aba-a60b-6, Agence française de développement.
    16. Haris Doukas & Alexandros Nikas & Mikel González-Eguino & Iñaki Arto & Annela Anger-Kraavi, 2018. "From Integrated to Integrative: Delivering on the Paris Agreement," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(7), pages 1-10, July.
    17. William Brock & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2019. "Regional Climate Policy under Deep Uncertainty: Robust Control, Hot Spots and Learning," DEOS Working Papers 1903, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    18. William Brock & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2019. "Regional Climate Policy under Deep Uncertainty," DEOS Working Papers 1901, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    19. Cai, Yongyang & Golub, Alla A. & Hertel, Thomas W., 2016. "Developing Long-run Agricultural R&D Policy in the Face of Uncertain Economic Growth," 2017 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 6-8, 2017, Chicago, Illinois 250111, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    20. Elmar Kriegler & Ioanna Mouratiadou & Gunnar Luderer & Nico Bauer & Robert J. Brecha & Katherine Calvin & Enrica Cian & Jae Edmonds & Kejun Jiang & Massimo Tavoni & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2016. "Will economic growth and fossil fuel scarcity help or hinder climate stabilization?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 7-22, May.
    21. Colson, Abigail R. & Cooke, Roger M., 2017. "Cross validation for the classical model of structured expert judgment," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 109-120.
    22. Valentijn Stienen & Jacob Engwerda, 2020. "Measuring Impact of Uncertainty in a Stylized Macroeconomic Climate Model within a Dynamic Game Perspective," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(2), pages 1-39, January.
    23. Cai, Yongyang & Brock, William & Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 2016. "Climate Change Economics and Heat Transport across the Globe: Spatial-DSICE," 2017 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 6-8, 2017, Chicago, Illinois 251833, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item


    Climate Change; Integrated Assessment Models;

    JEL classification:

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

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