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Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us?

Robert Pindyck ()

No 19244, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Very little. A plethora of integrated assessment models (IAMs) have been constructed and used to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate alternative abatement policies. These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis: certain inputs (e.g. the discount rate) are arbitrary, but have huge effects on the SCC estimates the models produce; the models' descriptions of the impact of climate change are completely ad hoc, with no theoretical or empirical foundation; and the models can tell us nothing about the most important driver of the SCC, the possibility of a catastrophic climate outcome. IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading.

JEL-codes: D81 Q5 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-ene, nep-env and nep-res
Date: 2013-07
Note: EEE PE
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Published as Robert S. Pindyck, 2013. "Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 860-72, September.

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