IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nev/wpaper/wp201301.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Moving Forward with Incorporating "Catastrophic" Climate Change into Policy Analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Elizabeth Kopits
  • Alex L. Marten
  • Ann Wolverton

Abstract

It has often been stated that current studies aimed at understanding the magnitude of optimal climate policy fail to adequately capture the potential for “catastrophic” impacts of climate change. While economic modeling exercises to date do provide evidence that potential climate catastrophes might significantly influence the optimal path of abatement, there is a need to move beyond experiments which are abstracted from important details of the climate problem in order to substantively inform the policy debate. This paper provides a foundation for improving the economic modeling of potential large scale impacts of climate change in order to understand their influence on estimates of socially efficient climate policy. We begin by considering how the term “catastrophic impacts” has been used in the scientific literature to describe changes in the climate system and carefully review the characteristics of the events that have been discussed in this context. We contrast those findings with a review of the way in which the economic literature has modeled the potential economic and human welfare impacts of events of this nature. We find that the uniform way in which the economic literature has typically modeled such impacts along with the failure to understand differences in the end points and timescales examined by the natural science literature has resulted in the modeling of events that do not resemble those of concern. Based on this finding and our review of the scientific literature we provide a path forward for better incorporating these events into integrated assessment modeling, identifying areas where modeling could be improved even within current modeling frameworks and others where additional work is needed.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Kopits & Alex L. Marten & Ann Wolverton, 2013. "Moving Forward with Incorporating "Catastrophic" Climate Change into Policy Analysis," NCEE Working Paper Series 201301, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Jan 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:nev:wpaper:wp201301
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-economics/working-paper-moving-forward-incorporating-catastrophic-climate-change
    File Function: First version, 2013
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Naevdal, Eric & Oppenheimer, Michael, 2007. "The economics of the thermohaline circulation--A problem with multiple thresholds of unknown locations," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 262-283, November.
    2. repec:spr:portec:v:3:y:2004:i:2:d:10.1007_s10258-004-0033-z is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lemoine, Derek M. & Traeger, Christian P., 2011. "Tipping points and ambiguity in the economics of climate change," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt9nd591ww, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    4. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(2), pages 135-160, February.
    5. Megan Ceronsky & David Anthoff & Cameron Hepburn & Richard S.J. Tol, 2005. "Checking The Price Tag On Catastrophe: The Social Cost Of Carbon Under Non-Linear Climate Response," Working Papers FNU-87, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Aug 2005.
    6. Asbjørn Aaheim & Rajiv Chaturvedi & Anitha Sagadevan, 2011. "Integrated modelling approaches to analysis of climate change impacts on forests and forest management," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 247-266, February.
    7. Timothy Lenton & Juan-Carlos Ciscar, 2013. "Integrating tipping points into climate impact assessments," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 585-597, April.
    8. Pindyck, Robert S., 2000. "Irreversibilities and the timing of environmental policy," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 233-259, July.
    9. Gjerde, Jon & Grepperud, Sverre & Kverndokk, Snorre, 1999. "Optimal climate policy under the possibility of a catastrophe," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 289-317, August.
    10. Tsur, Yacov & Zemel, Amos, 1996. "Accounting for global warming risks: Resource management under event uncertainty," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1289-1305.
    11. Robert S. Pindyck, 2013. "The Climate Policy Dilemma," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(2), pages 219-237, July.
    12. P. Link & Richard Tol, 2011. "Estimation of the economic impact of temperature changes induced by a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation: an application of FUND," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 287-304, January.
    13. P. Michael Link & Richard S. J. Tol, 2004. "Possible economic impacts of a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation: an application of FUND," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 3(2), pages 99-114, September.
    14. Anders Levermann & Jonathan Bamber & Sybren Drijfhout & Andrey Ganopolski & Winfried Haeberli & Neil Harris & Matthias Huss & Kirstin Krüger & Timothy Lenton & Ronald Lindsay & Dirk Notz & Peter Wadha, 2012. "Potential climatic transitions with profound impact on Europe," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 845-878, February.
    15. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
    16. Baranzini, Andrea & Chesney, Marc & Morisset, Jacques, 2003. "The impact of possible climate catastrophes on global warming policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 691-701, June.
    17. Tol, Richard S. J. & Narita, Daiju & Anthoff, David, 2008. "Damage Costs of Climate Change through Intensification of Tropical Cyclone Activities: An Application of FUND," Papers WP259, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    18. Paul D. Williams, 2009. "Rapid climate change: an overview for economists," International Journal of Green Economics, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 3(1), pages 63-76.
    19. Martin L. Weitzman, 2011. "Fat-Tailed Uncertainty in the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 275-292, Summer.
    20. Kolstad, Charles D., 1996. "Fundamental irreversibilities in stock externalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 221-233, May.
    21. Chen, Chi-Chung & McCarl, Bruce A., 2000. "The Value Of Enso Information To Agriculture: Consideration Of Event Strength And Trade," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 25(02), December.
    22. Anthoff, David & Hepburn, Cameron & Tol, Richard S.J., 2009. "Equity weighting and the marginal damage costs of climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 836-849, January.
    23. repec:hrv:faseco:34728611 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change. Part 1: Benchmark Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(1), pages 47-73, January.
    25. Robert S. Pindyck & Neng Wang, 2013. "The Economic and Policy Consequences of Catastrophes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 306-339, November.
    26. Daiju Narita & Richard Tol & David Anthoff, 2010. "Economic costs of extratropical storms under climate change: an application of FUND," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(3), pages 371-384.
    27. Anthony Fisher & Urvashi Narain, 2003. "Global Warming, Endogenous Risk, and Irreversibility," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 25(4), pages 395-416, August.
    28. Julienne Stroeve & Mark Serreze & Marika Holland & Jennifer Kay & James Malanik & Andrew Barrett, 2012. "The Arctic’s rapidly shrinking sea ice cover: a research synthesis," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 1005-1027, February.
    29. Hope, Chris W., 2011. "The social cost of CO2 from the PAGE09 model," Economics Discussion Papers 2011-39, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    30. Cropper, M. L., 1976. "Regulating activities with catastrophic environmental effects," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-15, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Toman Michael, 2014. "The need for multiple types of information to inform climate change assessment," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 469-485, December.
    2. van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2014. "Abrupt positive feedback and the social cost of carbon," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 28-41.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    climate change; catastrophes; integrated assessment model;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nev:wpaper:wp201301. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Cynthia Morgan). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nepgvus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.