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Do Current Assessments Underestimate Future Damages from Climate Change ?

Author

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  • Stéphane Hallegatte

    (CNRM - Centre national de recherches météorologiques - Météo France - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CIRED - Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CIRAD - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AgroParisTech)

Abstract

While the economic debate on climate policy focuses on discounting, we do not know yet what to discount. The potential (non-discounted) socio-economic cost of climate change, indeed, is still unknown. Only a few studies have tried to estimate socio-economic costs of climate change. Most of them concluded that, for a warming of a few degrees, damages will be limited to a few percent of GDP. All these studies, however, have disregarded important mechanisms and have only considered the cost of a stabilized new climate. This article claims that the climate change issue should instead be framed in terms of the adaptation of socio-economic systems to a changing climate. Doing so, it calls for the taking into account of (1) the interaction between the uncertainty on future climate and the inertia of important economic sectors ; (2) the short-term economic constraints that will be key in the response to climate shocks. Finally, the impacts of climate change cannot be estimated assuming that societies will always be able to manage in a perfect way the subsequent change in risks, as past experiences demonstrate our poor ability to do so. These mechanisms suggest that the uncertainty on future climate change damages is even larger than is usually acknowledged, and calls for additional research on climate change impacts.

Suggested Citation

  • Stéphane Hallegatte, 2007. "Do Current Assessments Underestimate Future Damages from Climate Change ?," Post-Print hal-00259384, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00259384
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00259384
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Stéphane Hallegatte & Jan Corfee-Morlot, 2011. "Understanding climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation at city scale: an introduction," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 1-12, January.
    3. Nicola Cantore & Dirk Willem te Velde & Leo Peskett, 2014. "How Can Low-income Countries Gain from a Framework Agreement on Climate Change? An Analysis with Integrated Assessment Modelling," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 32(3), pages 313-326, May.
    4. Giordano, Thierry, 2012. "Adaptive planning for climate resilient long-lived infrastructures," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 80-89.
    5. Richard S. J. Tol & Francisco Estrada & Carlos Gay-García, 2012. "The persistence of shocks in GDP and the estimation of the potential economic costs of climate change," Working Paper Series 4312, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.

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    Keywords

    Climate change; economic impacts;

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