Thursday, August 13, 2015
The economics of mitigating climate change: What can we know?
The academic journal article below by Richard A. Rosena and Edeltraud Guentherb is amusing. It says that we have insufficient knowledge to predict future economic impacts of climate change but they still end up saying "mitigation policies must be forcefully implemented anyway". They had to say that in order to get their article published
The long-term economics of mitigating climate change over the long run has played a high profile role in the most important analyses of climate change in the last decade, namely the Stern Report and the IPCC's Fourth Assessment. However, the various kinds of uncertainties that affect these economic results raise serious questions about whether or not the net costs and benefits of mitigating climate change over periods as long as 50 to 100 years can be known to such a level of accuracy that they should be reported to policymakers and the public. This paper provides a detailed analysis of the derivation of these estimates of the long-term economic costs and benefits of mitigation. It particularly focuses on the role of technological change, especially for energy efficiency technologies, in making the net economic results of mitigating climate change unknowable over the long run.
Because of these serious technical problems, policymakers should not base climate change mitigation policy on the estimated net economic impacts computed by integrated assessment models. Rather, mitigation policies must be forcefully implemented anyway given the actual physical climate change crisis, in spite of the many uncertainties involved in trying to predict the net economics of doing so.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).