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Models-as-usual for unusual risks? On the value of catastrophic climate change

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  • Stéphane Zuber

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Bruno Lanz

    (Center for International Environmental Studies - Graduate Institute Geneva)

  • Antoine Bommier

    (Chair for Integrative Risk Management and Economics - ETH Zürich - Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology [Zürich])

Abstract

We study the role of alternative intertemporal preference representations in a model of economic growth, stock pollutant and endogenous risk of catastrophic collapse. We contrast the traditional "discounted utility" model, which assumes risk neutrality with respect to intertemporal utility, with a multiplicative choice model that displays risk aversion in that dimension. First, we show that both representations of preferences can rationalize the same "business as usual" economy for a given interest rate and no pollution externality. Second, once we introduce a collapse risk whose hazard rate is a function of the pollution stock, multiplicative preferences recommend a much more stringent policy response. An illustration in the context of climate change indicates that switching to the multiplicative preference representation has a similar effect, in terms of policy recommendations, as scaling up the schedule of the hazard rate by a factor of 100.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stéphane Zuber & Bruno Lanz & Antoine Bommier, 2015. "Models-as-usual for unusual risks? On the value of catastrophic climate change," Post-Print hal-01199503, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01199503
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2015.07.003
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01199503
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    2. Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Marc Fleurbaey & Stéphane Zuber, 2020. "Catastrophic climate change, population ethics and intergenerational equity," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 163(2), pages 873-890, November.
    3. Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Stéphane Zuber & Marc Fleurbaey, 2017. "Intergenerational equity under catastrophic climate change," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 17040, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    4. Can Askan Mavi, 2016. "Uncertain Catastrophic Events : Another Source of Environmental Traps ?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01275174, HAL.
    5. Adler, Matthew D. & Treich, Nicolas, 2017. "Utilitarianism, prioritarianism, and intergenerational equity: A cake eating model," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 94-102.
    6. Can Askan Mavi, 2017. "What Can Abrupt Events Tell Us About Sustainability ?," Working Papers hal-01628682, HAL.
    7. Mavi, Can Askan, 2019. "What can catastrophic events tell us about sustainability?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 70-83.
    8. Lucas Bretschger & Alexandra Vinogradova, 2014. "Growth and Mitigation Policies with Uncertain Climate Damage," CESifo Working Paper Series 5085, CESifo.
    9. Karel Doubravský & Alena Kocmanová & Mirko Dohnal, 2018. "Analysis of Sustainability Decision Trees Generated by Qualitative Models Based on Equationless Heuristics," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(7), pages 1-18, July.
    10. Can Askan Mavi, 2019. "Can harmful events be another source of environmental traps?," CEE-M Working Papers halshs-02141789, CEE-M, Universtiy of Montpellier, CNRS, INRA, Montpellier SupAgro.
    11. Can Askan Mavi, 2017. "Can a hazardous event be another source of poverty traps ?," Working Papers hal-01522087, HAL.
    12. Can Askan Mavi, 2017. "Can a hazardous event be another source of poverty traps ?," Working Papers 2017.14, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    13. Zerrahn, Alexander, 2017. "Wind Power and Externalities," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 245-260.
    14. Mavi, Can Askan, 2020. "Can harmful events be another source of environmental traps?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 29-46.
    15. Can Askan Mavi, 2016. "Uncertain Catastrophic Events : Another Source of Environmental Traps ?," Working Papers halshs-01275174, HAL.
    16. Lucas Bretschger & Alexandra Vinogradova, 2014. "Growth and Mitigation Policies with Uncertain Climate Damage," CESifo Working Paper Series 5085, CESifo.
    17. Can Askan Mavi, 2019. "Can harmful events be another source of environmental traps?," Working Papers halshs-02141789, HAL.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    discounting; risk-sensitive preferences ; environmental policy ; climate change ; catastrophic risks ; risk aversion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D99 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Other
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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