Risk, uncertainty and the economic evaluation of climate change policies

Project 1b

Project staff: Simon Dietz, Giles Atkinson, Cameron Hepburn, Chris HopeEmma Tompkins and Judith Rees

This project investigates the implications of uncertainty for decision making on climate change, especially using economic methods.

The project is divided into two sections:

i) Economics, ethics and evidence

Leaders: Simon Dietz, Giles Atkinson, Cameron Hepburn and Chris Hope

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (Stern, 2007) highlighted the significant risks posed by business-as-usual climate change and the benefits of avoiding these risks through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

One element in its analysis has been the formal economic modelling of the benefits of mitigation. These estimates are produced using “integrated assessment models”, complex mathematical models that integrate a simplified climate model with ecological, economic and social processes.

The issues raised represent the interaction of scientific instincts and value judgments, and raise challenging issues about the status and claims on our attention of different sorts of evidence.

ii) Trade-offs and synergies in mitigation and adaptation decisions

Leaders: Emma Tompkins and Judith Rees

Investing all of our resources today in mitigating climate change will not prevent all of its impacts. Since we cannot stop climate change, we need to prepare for the consequences. But how much of our resources should we invest in adaptation, compared with mitigation?

With a focus on two to three case study sectors, we propose to develop conceptual models to reveal the synergies and trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation responses.