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Tipping points and ambiguity in the economics of climate change

Author: Derek M Lemoine; Christian P Traeger; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, ©2012.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 18230.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
We model welfare-maximizing policy in an infinite-horizon setting when the probability of a tipping point, the welfare change due to a tipping point, and knowledge about a tipping point's trigger all depend on the policy path. Analytic results demonstrate how optimal policy depends on the ability to affect both the probability of a tipping point and also welfare in a post-threshold world. Simulations with a  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Derek M Lemoine; Christian P Traeger; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 801099740
Notes: Title from http://www.nber.org/papers/18230 viewed July 20, 2012.
"July 2012."
Description: 1 online resource (38 pages) : illustrations.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 18230.
Responsibility: Derek M. Lemoine, Christian P. Traeger.

Abstract:

We model welfare-maximizing policy in an infinite-horizon setting when the probability of a tipping point, the welfare change due to a tipping point, and knowledge about a tipping point's trigger all depend on the policy path. Analytic results demonstrate how optimal policy depends on the ability to affect both the probability of a tipping point and also welfare in a post-threshold world. Simulations with a numerical climate-economy model show that possible tipping points in the climate system increase the optimal near-term carbon tax by up to 45% in base case specifications. The resulting policy paths lower peak warming by up to 0.5ʻC compared to a model without possible tipping points. Different types of tipping points have qualitatively different effects on policy, demonstrating the importance of explicitly modeling tipping points' effects on system dynamics. Aversion to ambiguity in the threshold's distribution can amplify or dampen the effect of tipping points on optimal policy, but in our numerical model, ambiguity aversion increases the optimal carbon tax.

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