Climate Change Catastrophes
Most studies that compare price and quantity controls for greenhouse gas emissions under uncertainty find that price mechanisms perform substantially better. In these studies, the benefits from reducing emissions are proportional to the level of reductions, and such linear benefits strongly favor price policies (Weitzman 1974). Catastrophic damages, however, challenge that intuition as consequences become highly nonlinear. Catastrophe avoidance offers huge benefits, and incremental adjustments on either side of the associated threshold are relatively unimportant, suggesting a strong preference for quantity controls. This paper shows that with catastrophic damages, both price and quantity mechanisms offer large gains over the business-as-usual alternative, and the difference between policies is never more than 10%. Catastrophe avoidance is much more important than efficient catastrophe avoidance. Although previous studies favoring price policies in the presence of uncertainty have worried that catastrophes would reverse their results, this analysis indicates that such concerns are not borne out.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kolstad, Charles D., 1996. "Learning and Stock Effects in Environmental Regulation: The Case of Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, July.
- Stavins, Robert N., 1996. "Correlated Uncertainty and Policy Instrument Choice," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 218-232, March.
- William D. Nordhaus & David Popp, 1996. "What is the Value of Scientific Knowledge? An Application to Global Warming Using the PRICE Model," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1117, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003.
"Regulating stock externalities under uncertainty,"
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 45(2, Supple), pages 416-432, March.
- Pizer, William & Newell, Richard, 1998. "Regulating Stock Externalities Under Uncertainty," Discussion Papers dp-99-10-rev, Resources For the Future.
- Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2002. "Taxes versus quotas for a stock pollutant," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 367-384, November.
- Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2001. "Taxes versus Quotas for a Stock Pollutant," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5fx9p7kf, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
- Pizer, William A., 1999. "The optimal choice of climate change policy in the presence of uncertainty," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 255-287, August.
- Pizer, William, 1997. "Prices vs. Quantities Revisited: The Case of Climate Change," Discussion Papers dp-98-02, Resources For the Future. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)