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Economic impacts of tipping points in the climate system

Dietz, Simon, Rising, James, Stoerk, Thomas and Wagner, Gernot (2021) Economic impacts of tipping points in the climate system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118 (34). ISSN 0027-8424

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Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.2103081118

Abstract

Climate scientists have long emphasized the importance of climate tipping points like thawing permafrost, ice sheet disintegration, and changes in atmospheric circulation. Yet, save for a few fragmented studies, climate economics has either ignored them or represented them in highly stylized ways. We provide unified estimates of the economic impacts of all eight climate tipping points covered in the economic literature so far using a meta-analytic integrated assessment model (IAM) with a modular structure. The model includes national-level climate damages from rising temperatures and sea levels for 180 countries, calibrated on detailed econometric evidence and simulation modeling. Collectively, climate tipping points increase the social cost of carbon (SCC) by ∼25% in our main specification. The distribution is positively skewed, however. We estimate an ∼10% chance of climate tipping points more than doubling the SCC. Accordingly, climate tipping points increase global economic risk. A spatial analysis shows that they increase economic losses almost everywhere. The tipping points with the largest effects are dissociation of ocean methane hydrates and thawing permafrost. Most of our numbers are probable underestimates, given that some tipping points, tipping point interactions, and impact channels have not been covered in the literature so far; however, our method of structural meta-analysis means that future modeling of climate tipping points can be integrated with relative ease, and we present a reduced-form tipping points damage function that could be incorporated in other IAMs.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.pnas.org/
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2021 10:33
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:08
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/111807

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