The economically optimal warming limit of the planet

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Date
2019
Volume
10
Issue
4
Journal
Earth System Dynamics : ESD
Series Titel
Book Title
Publisher
Göttingen : Copernicus Publ.
Abstract

Both climate-change damages and climate-change mitigation will incur economic costs. While the risk of severe damages increases with the level of global warming (Dell et al., 2014; IPCC, 2014b, 2018; Lenton et al., 2008), mitigating costs increase steeply with more stringent warming limits (IPCC, 2014a; Luderer et al., 2013; Rogelj et al., 2015). Here, we show that the global warming limit that minimizes this century's total economic costs of climate change lies between 1.9 and 2°C, if temperature changes continue to impact national economic growth rates as observed in the past and if instantaneous growth effects are neither compensated nor amplified by additional growth effects in the following years. The result is robust across a wide range of normative assumptions on the valuation of future welfare and inequality aversion. We combine estimates of climate-change impacts on economic growth for 186 countries (applying an empirical damage function from Burke et al., 2015) with mitigation costs derived from a state-of-the-art energy-economy-climate model with a wide range of highly resolved mitigation options (Kriegler et al., 2017; Luderer et al., 2013, 2015). Our purely economic assessment, even though it omits non-market damages, provides support for the international Paris Agreement on climate change. The political goal of limiting global warming to "well below 2 degrees" is thus also an economically optimal goal given above assumptions on adaptation and damage persistence. © 2019 Copernicus GmbH. All rights reserved.

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Citation
Ueckerd, F., Frieler, K., Lange, S., Wenz, L., Luderer, G., & Levermann, A. (2019). The economically optimal warming limit of the planet (Göttingen : Copernicus Publ.). Göttingen : Copernicus Publ. https://doi.org//10.5194/esd-10-741-2019
License
CC BY 4.0 Unported