Fankhauser, Samuel and Sjtol, Richard (2005) On climate change and economic growth. Resource and Energy Economics, 27 (1). pp. 1-17. ISSN 0928-7655
The economic impact of climate change is usually measured as the extent to which the climate of a given period affects social welfare in that period. This static approach ignores the dynamic effects through which climate change may affect economic growth and hence future welfare. In this paper we take a closer look at these dynamic effects, in particular saving and capital accumulation. With a constant savings rate, a lower output due to climate change will lead to a proportionate reduction in investment which in turn will depress future production (capital accumulation effect) and, in almost all cases, future consumption per capita. If the savings rate is endogenous, forward looking agents would change their savings behavior to accommodate the impact of future climate change. This suppresses growth prospects in absolute and per capita terms (savings effect). In an endogenous growth context, these two effects may be exacerbated through changes in labour productivity and the rate of technical progress. Simulations using a simple climate-economy model suggest that the capital accumulation effect is important, especially if technological change is endogenous, and may be larger than the direct impact of climate change. The savings effect is less pronounced. The dynamic effects are more important, relative to the direct effects, if climate change impacts are moderate overall. This suggests that they are more of a concern in developed countries, which are believed to be less vulnerable to climate change. The magnitude of dynamic effects is not sensitive to the choice of discount rate.
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