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Optimal Learning on Climate Change: Why Climate Skeptics should reduce Emissions

Sweder van Wijnbergen () and Tim Willems

No 12-085/2, Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers from Tinbergen Institute

Abstract: Climate skeptics argue that the possibility that global warming is exogenous implies that we should not take additional action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions until we know more. However this paper shows that even climate skeptics have an incentive to reduce emissions: such a change of direction facilitates their learning process on the causes of global warming. Since the optimal policy action depends on these causes, they are valuable to know. Although an increase in emissions would also ease learning, that option is shown to be inferior because emitting greenhouse gases is irreversible. Consequently the policy implications of the different positions in the global warming debate turn out to coincide - thereby diminishing the relevance of this debate from a policy perspective. Uncertainty is no reason for inaction.

Keywords: climate policy; global warming; climate skepticism; active learning; irreversibilities (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 Q54 Q58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012-08-20
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Related works:
Journal Article: Optimal learning on climate change: Why climate skeptics should reduce emissions (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: Optimal Learning on Climate Change: Why climate skeptics should reduce emissions (2013) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:tin:wpaper:20120085

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