Inderscience Publishers

Economists and ecologists: modelling global climate change to different conclusions

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Numerous articles and studies have pointed to a divergence of opinion between economists and ecologists on environmental matters. This paper examines these differences as they apply to the debate over climate change. In particular, the paper examines the models that economists use for making decisions regarding climate change policy: cost–benefit analysis; utility theory; time-discounting; and integrated computer models. For each of these types of model, the paper examines how ecologists might criticise the model structure, or its assumptions, or its results. The paper concludes that, although economic models are of great use in guiding decision-makers on some aspects of the problem, they provide an incomplete picture of the fundamental decision of when and how much to act to avoid climate change.

Keywords: cost–benefit analysis, integrated economic models, time-discounting, utility theory, climate change

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