Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

2009 Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers (Editor-in-Chief)

Climate Change, Economic Costs of

  • Richard S. J. Tol
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30440-3_71

Definition of the Subject

The economic costs of climate change include all positive and negative impacts of the enhanced greenhouse effect and the resulting changes in theatmosphere and ocean on all human consumers and producers. Total costs refer to the difference in human welfare between a scenario with climatechange and a scenario without climate change. Marginal costs refer to the difference in human welfare between two scenarios with a slightlydifferent climate, normalized by the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that would induce that difference. Estimates of the economic costs of climatechange are important to assess the size of the climate problem relative to other problems, and to compare the costs of climate change to the costs ofgreenhouse gas emission reduction.

Introduction

Calls for greenhouse gas emission reduction are often phrased as a moral imperative. While tempting, this is wrong. Firstly, there is no moralagreement. Emission reduction could save polar bears but it...

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Notes

Acknowledgments

My thoughts on this subject were shaped by discussions with Hadi Dowlatabadi, Tom Downing, Sam Fankhauser, David Maddison, Rob Mendelsohn, BillNordhaus, David Pearce, Steve Schneider, Joel Smith, and Gary Yohe.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard S. J. Tol
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Economic and Social Research InstituteDublinIreland
  2. 2.Institute for Environmental StudiesVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Spatial EconomicsVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Engineering and Public PolicyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA