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Optimal Learning on Climate Change: Why climate skeptics should reduce emissions

  • Sweder van Wijnbergen
  • Tim Willems

Climate skeptics typically argue that the possibility that global warming is exogenous, implies that we should not take additional action towards reducing emissions until we know what drives warming. This paper however shows that even climate skeptics have an incentive to reduce emissions: such a directional change generates information on the causes of global warming. Since the optimal policy depends upon these causes, they are valuable to know. Although increasing emissions would also generate information, that option is inferior due to its irreversibility. We show that optimality can even imply that climate skeptics should actually argue for lower emissions than believers.

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File URL: http://www.oxcarre.ox.ac.uk/files/OxCarreRP2013111.pdf
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Paper provided by Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford in its series OxCarre Working Papers with number 111.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:111
Contact details of provider: Postal: Manor Road, Oxford, OX1 3UQ
Web page: http://www.oxcarre.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Arrow, Kenneth J & Fisher, Anthony C, 1974. "Environmental Preservation, Uncertainty, and Irreversibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 312-19, May.
  2. Aghion Philippe & Bolton, Patrick & Harris Christopher & Jullien Bruno, 1991. "Optimal learning by experimentation," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9104, CEPREMAP.
  3. Aghion, Philippe, et al, 1991. "Optimal Learning by Experimentation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 621-54, July.
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