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Uncertainty and global warming : an option - pricing approach to policy

Listed author(s):
  • Baranzini, Andrea
  • Chesney, Marc
  • Morisset, Jacques

Uncertainty is inherent in the analysis of global warming issues. Not only is there considerable scientific uncertainty about the magnitude of global warming, but even if that problem were resolved, there is uncertainty about what monetary value to assign to the costs and benefits of various policies to reduce global warming. And yet the influence of uncertainty in policymaker's decisions is ignored in most studies of the issue. The authors try to explicitly incorporate the effect of uncertainty in the choice of global warming abatement policies. The approach they develop draws on the emerging literature on investment under uncertainty - in particular, that on the option-valuation approach. Their numerical applications focus on the Cline's (1992) analysis of global warming, but it may be applied to a range of global warming analyses. First, they assess whether it is optimal to implement Cline's strategy of limiting global warming today, or whether it should be postponed, and for how long. Then, they identify the optimal policy to be implemented today for different levels of uncertainty about the costs and benefits of policies to reduce global warming.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1417.

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Date of creation: 28 Feb 1995
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1417
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