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How Much Damage Will Climate Change Do? Recent Estimates


  • Richard S.J. Tol

    () (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

  • Samuel Fankhauser
  • Richard G. Richels
  • Joel B. Smith


Two reasons to be concerned about climate change are its unjust distributional impact and its negative aggregate effect on economic growth and welfare. Although our knowledge of the impact of climate change is incomplete and uncertain, economic valuation is difficult and controversial, and the effect of other developments on the impacts of climate change is largely speculative, we find that poorer countries and people are more vulnerable than are richer countries and people. A modest global warming is likely to have a net negative effect on poor countries in hot climates, but may have a net positive effect on rich countries in temperate climates. If one counts dollars, the world aggregate may be positive. If one counts people, the world aggregate is probably negative. Negative impacts would become more negative, and positive impacts would turn negative for more substantial warming. The marginal costs of carbon dioxide emissions are uncertain and sensitive to assumptions that partially reflect ethical positions, but unlikely to be larger that $50/tC.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard S.J. Tol & Samuel Fankhauser & Richard G. Richels & Joel B. Smith, 2000. "How Much Damage Will Climate Change Do? Recent Estimates," Working Papers FNU-2, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Sep 2000.
  • Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:2

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Bigano & Francesco Bosello & Roberto Roson & Richard Tol, 2008. "Economy-wide impacts of climate change: a joint analysis for sea level rise and tourism," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 13(8), pages 765-791, October.
    2. Kverndokk, Snorre & Rose, Adam, 2008. "Equity and Justice in Global Warming Policy," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 2(2), pages 135-176, October.
    3. Parry, Ian W.H., 2008. "How should heavy-duty trucks be taxed?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 651-668, March.
    4. Parry, Ian & Portney, Paul & Harrington, Winston & Gruenspecht, Howard, 2003. "The Economics of Fuel Economy Standards," Discussion Papers dp-03-44, Resources For the Future.
    5. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2005. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1276-1289, September.
    6. Ochuodho, Thomas O. & Lantz, Van A. & Olale, Edward, 2016. "Economic impacts of climate change considering individual, additive, and simultaneous changes in forest and agriculture sectors in Canada: A dynamic, multi-regional CGE model analysis," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 43-51.
    7. Richard S. J. Tol, 2010. "The Economic Impact of Climate Change," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11(s1), pages 13-37, May.
    8. Kverndokk, Snorre & Nævdal, Eric & Nøstbakken, Linda, 2014. "The trade-off between intra- and intergenerational equity in climate policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 40-58.
    9. Parry, Ian & Fischer, Carolyn & Harrington, Winston, 2004. "Should Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards Be Tightened?," Discussion Papers dp-04-53, Resources For the Future.
    10. Ian W.H. Parry, 2005. "Fiscal Interactions and the Costs of Controlling Pollution from Electricity," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 849-869, Winter.
    11. 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.
    12. Antón-Sarabia, Arturo & Hernández-Trillo, Fausto, 2014. "Optimal gasoline tax in developing, oil-producing countries: The case of Mexico," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 564-571.
    13. Sobieralski, Joseph B., 2013. "The optimal aviation gasoline tax for U.S. general aviation," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 186-191.
    14. Olivier Godard, 2014. "LA POLITIQUE CLIMATIQUE ENTRE CHOIX NATIONAUX ET SCENARIOS MONDIAUX Implications des positionnements cognitifs et éthiques," Working Papers hal-01089197, HAL.
    15. Dritan Osmani, "undated". "A note on optimal transfer schemes, stable coalition for environmental protection and joint maximization assumption," Working Papers FNU-176, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University.

    More about this item


    climate change; impacts; valuation; marginal cost;

    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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