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Preserving the Ocean Circulation: Implications for Climate Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Klaus Keller
  • Kelvin Tan
  • Francois M.M. Morel
  • David F. Bradford

Abstract

Climate modelers have recognized the possibility of abrupt climate changes caused by a reorganization of the North Atlantic's current pattern (technically known as a thermohaline circulation collapse). This circulation system now warms north-western Europe and transports carbon dioxide to the deep oceans. The posited collapse of this system could produce severe cooling in north-western Europe, even when general global warming is in progress. In this paper we use a simple integrated assessment model to investigate the optimal policy response to this risk. Adding the constraint of avoiding a thermohaline circulation collapse would significantly reduce the allowable greenhouse gas emissions in the long run along an optimal path. Our analysis implies that relatively small damages associated with a collapse (less than 1 % of gross world product) would justify a considerable reduction of future carbon dioxide emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Keller & Kelvin Tan & Francois M.M. Morel & David F. Bradford, 2000. "Preserving the Ocean Circulation: Implications for Climate Policy," NBER Working Papers 7476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7476 Note: PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ranjan, Ram & Shortle, James S. & Marshall, Elizabeth P., 2003. "The Relevance and Implications of the Environmental Kuznets Curve Under Stock Effects and Non-Linearities: A Hysteresis Based Approach," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22147, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Geoffrey Heal & Bengt Kriström, 2002. "Uncertainty and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, pages 3-39.
    3. T. Bruckner & K. Zickfeld, 2009. "Emissions corridors for reducing the risk of a collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 61-83, January.
    4. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Targets for global climate policy: An overview," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 911-928.
    5. Greiner, Alfred & Semmler, Willi, 2005. "Economic growth and global warming: A model of multiple equilibria and thresholds," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 430-447, August.
    6. Ranjan, Ram & Shortle, James, 2007. "The environmental Kuznets curve when the environment exhibits hysteresis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 204-215, October.
    7. Kousky, Carolyn & Rostapshova, Olga & Toman, Michael & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2009. "Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes," Discussion Papers dp-09-45, Resources For the Future.
    8. P. Michael Link & Richard S.J. Tol, 2004. "Possible Economic Impacts of a Shutdown of the Thermohaline Circulation: an Application of FUND," Working Papers FNU-42, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2004.
    9. Gregory Garner & Patrick Reed & Klaus Keller, 2016. "Climate risk management requires explicit representation of societal trade-offs," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 134(4), pages 713-723, February.
    10. repec:spr:portec:v:3:y:2004:i:2:d:10.1007_s10258-004-0033-z is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Hall, Darwin C. & Behl, Richard J., 2006. "Integrating economic analysis and the science of climate instability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 442-465, May.
    12. 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.
    13. Kingwell, Ross S., 2006. "Is Hanrahan sort of right? Will climate change ruin us all?," 2006 Conference (50th), February 8-10, 2006, Sydney, Australia 137961, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    14. Thomas BRUCKNER & K. ZICKFELD, "undated". "Inverse Integrated Assessment of Climate Change: the Guard-rail Approach," EcoMod2008 23800018, EcoMod.
    15. Bahn, Olivier & Edwards, Neil R. & Knutti, Reto & Stocker, Thomas F., 2011. "Energy policies avoiding a tipping point in the climate system," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 334-348, January.
    16. Kingwell, Ross S., 2006. "Climate change in Australia: agricultural impacts and adaptation," Australasian Agribusiness Review, University of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, vol. 14.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
    • Q30 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - General

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