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The Stern Review: A Deconstruction

Listed author(s):
  • Gary W. Yohe
  • Richard S.J. Tol

    ()

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

Using a simple model designed for transparency but nonetheless calibrated to support the much-quoted damage estimates of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change, we demonstrate significant sensitivity of those results to assumptions about the pure rate of time preference, the discounting time horizon, rates of risk and equity aversion used to compute certainty- and equity equivalent annuities, and presumed static regional vulnerability. Manipulation of any of these parameters one at a time across reasonable ranges can diminish damage estimates by as much as 84% or, in the case of extending the time horizon, increase damage estimates by 900%. We also confirm the usual result that limiting atmospheric concentrations to specific benchmarks above 400 ppm cannot eliminate damages. Nonetheless, we applaud the Stern Review author team for reconfirming that the climate problem can productively be approached as an economic problem whose solutions can be explored with the tools of decision analysis.

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File URL: http://www.fnu.zmaw.de/fileadmin/fnu-files/publication/working-papers/sterngecwp.pdf
File Function: First version, 2007
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Paper provided by Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University in its series Working Papers with number FNU-125.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision: Feb 2007
Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:125
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  8. Daniel H. Cole, 2007. "The Stern Review and its critics: implications for the theory and practice of costs-benefits analysis," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 4, November.
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  11. Eric Neumayer, 2007. "A missed opportunity: the Stern review on climate change fails to tackle the issue of non-substitutable loss of natural capital," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3059, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "The "Stern Review" on the Economics of Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 12741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Hammond, Peter J & Kennan, John, 1979. "Uniformly Optimal Infinite Horizon Plans," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 20(2), pages 283-296, June.
  15. Arrow Kenneth J, 2007. "Global Climate Change: A Challenge to Policy," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 4(3), pages 1-5, June.
  16. Gary W. Yohe & Richard S.J. Tol & Dean Murphy, 2007. "On Setting Near-term Climate Policy while the Dust Begins to Settle: The Legacy of the Stern Review," Working Papers FNU-129, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Mar 2007.
  17. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
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  19. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
  20. Amiel, Yoram & Creedy, John & Hurn, Stan, 1999. " Measuring Attitudes towards Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 83-96, March.
  21. Sir Ian Byatt & Bob Carter & Ian Castles & Chris de Freitas & Indur M. Goklany & David Henderson & David Holland & Lord Lawson of Blaby & Richard S. Lindzen & Ross McKitrick & Julian Morris & Sir Alan, 2006. "The Stern Review: A Dual Critique," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(4), pages 165-232, October.
  22. Spash, Clive L., 2007. "The economics of climate change impacts a la Stern: Novel and nuanced or rhetorically restricted?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 706-713, September.
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