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Sea Level Rise And Equity Weighting


  • David Anthoff
  • Robert J. Nicholls
  • Richard S.J. Tol

    () (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)


Using the FUND model, an impact assessment is conducted over the 21st century for rises in sea level of up to 2-m/century and a range of national socio-economic scenarios. This model balances the costs of retreat with the costs of protection, including the effects of coastal squeeze. While the costs of sea-level rise increase due to greater damage and protection costs, the model suggests that an optimum response in a benefit-cost sense remains widespread protection of developed coastal areas, as identified in earlier analyses. The socio-economic scenarios are also important in terms of influencing these costs. In terms of the four components of costs considered in FUND, protection seems to dominate, with substantial costs from wetland loss under some scenarios. The regional distribution of costs shows that a few regions experience most of the costs, especially East Asia, North America, Europe and South Asia. Importantly, this analysis suggests that protection is much more likely and rational than is widely assumed, even with a large rise in sea level. However, there are some important limitations to the analysis, which collectively suggest that protection may not be as widespread as suggested in the FUND analysis. Equity weighting allows the damages to be modified to reflect the wealth of those impacted by sea-level rise. Taking these distributional issues into account increases damage estimates by a factor of three, reflecting that the coasts fall disproportionately on poorer developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • David Anthoff & Robert J. Nicholls & Richard S.J. Tol, 2007. "Sea Level Rise And Equity Weighting," Working Papers FNU-136, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:136

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Pearce, 2003. "The Social Cost of Carbon and its Policy Implications," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(3), pages 362-384.
    2. Fankhauser, Samuel & S.J. Tol, Richard, 2005. "On climate change and economic growth," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 1-17, January.
    3. Azar, Christian & Sterner, Thomas, 1996. "Discounting and distributional considerations in the context of global warming," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-184, November.
    4. R K Turner & N Adger & P Doktor, 1995. "Assessing the Economic Costs of Sea Level Rise," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 27(11), pages 1777-1796, November.
    5. R K Turner & N Adger & P Doktor, 1995. "Assessing the economic costs of sea level rise," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 27(11), pages 1777-1796, November.
    6. Samuel Fankhauser & Richard Tol & DAVID Pearce, 1997. "The Aggregation of Climate Change Damages: a Welfare Theoretic Approach," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(3), pages 249-266, October.
    7. 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.
    8. Christian Azar, 1999. "Weight Factors in Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(3), pages 249-268, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gary W. Yohe & Richard S.J. Tol, 2007. "Precaution And A Dismal Theorem: Implications For Climate Policy And Climate Research," Working Papers FNU-145, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Aug 2007.
    2. Christine Schleupner & P. Michael Link, 2008. "Eiderstedt im Spannungsfeld zwischen Naturschutz- und Agrarpolitik - Entwicklung eines methodischen Ansatzes für ein nachhaltiges Ressourcenmanagement," Working Papers FNU-168, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Aug 2008.
    3. P. Michael Link & C. Ivie Ramos & Uwe A. Schneider & Erwin Schmid & J. Balkovic & R. Skalsky, 2008. "The interdependencies between food and biofuel production in European agriculture - an application of EUFASOM," Working Papers FNU-165, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jul 2008.

    More about this item


    climate change; sea level rise; equity weighting;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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