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Environmental Values

Why Worry About Climate Change? A Research Agenda

Richard S.J. Tol

Environmental Values 17(2008): 437-470. doi: 10.3197/096327108X368485

ABSTRACT

Estimates of the marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions suggest that, although climate change is a problem and some emission reduction is justified, very stringent abatement does not pass the cost-benefit test. However, current estimates of the economic impact of climate change are incomplete. Some of the missing impacts are likely to be positive and others negative, but overall the uncertainty seems to concentrate on the downside risks and current estimates of the damage costs may have a negative bias. The research effort on the economic impacts of climate change is minute and lacks diversity. This field of study should be strengthened, with a particular focus on the quantification of uncertainties; estimating missing impacts, estimating impacts in developing countries; interactions between impacts and higher-order effects; the valuation of biodiversity loss; the implications of extreme climate scenarios and violent conflict; and climate change in the very long term. I discuss these particular gaps in research, and speculate on possible sign and size of the impacts of climate change.


KEYWORDS

Climate change, impacts, valuation, cost-benefit analysis

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption. Stephen M. Gardiner

Climate Change Discussions in Washington: A Matter of Contending Perspectives. Michael C. MacCracken

Ethics and Climate Change: A Commentary on MacCracken, Toman and Gardiner.Peter Singer

Values in the Economics of Climate Change. Michael Toman

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Person-Affecting Moral Theory, Non-Identity and Future People. Robert Huseby

Disagreement and Responses to Climate Change Graham Long


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