Are economists getting climate dynamics right and does it matter?

Armon Rezai, Simon Dietz, Frank Venmans, Frederick van der Ploeg

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


We show that economic models of climate change produce climate dynamics inconsistent with current climate science models: (i) the delay between CO2 emissions and warming is much too long and (ii) positive carbon cycle feedbacks are mostly absent. These inconsistencies lead to biased economic policy advice. Controlling for how the economy is represented, different climate models result in significantly different optimal CO2 emissions. A long delay between emissions and warming leads to optimal carbon prices that are too low and attaches too much importance to the discount rate. Similarly we find that omitting positive carbon cycle feedbacks leads to optimal carbon prices that are too low. We conclude that it is important for policy purposes to bring economic models in line with the state of the art in climate science, and we make practical suggestions for how to do so.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502042 Environmental economics
  • 502027 Political economy
  • 502046 Economic policy
  • 502047 Economic theory

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