Yale study: Green Economy = Growing Economy

Terra Daily reports on a Yale meta study looking at the economic impacts of a carbon-constrained economy.  The results:

“As Congress prepares to debate new legislation to address the threat of climate change, opponents claim that the costs of adopting the leading proposals would be ruinous to the U.S. economy. The world’s leading economists who have studied the issue say that’s wrong – and you can find out for yourself,” said Robert Repetto, professor in the practice of economics and sustainable development at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies …

Check out See For Yourself, an interactive website which enables users to examine studies, their assumptions, and results.

This looks to be a very important development for the discussion of economy and the environment (rather than the economy versus the environment).

Now, there looks to be one thing already with which I disagree. The site reads

Surprisingly, only a handful of key assumptions account for most of the differences among model predictions

Surprised? No.  How about “notably” or “importantly”.

There are just seven assumptions that account “for 80 percent of the variance in the projected costs of cutting emissions by 40 percent below the baseline by 2030.” And, this page allows you to play with the assumptions to see how they impact what might happen with the economy. While a valuable start, there are some problems with this.  For example,

  • The visibility of what the assumptions are is (at best) limited:  just what is the “economic damage” level that might be caused by Global Warming if not checked?  What is the baseline assumption that one then can modify? 
  • Sadly, that “play” is limited.  For example, why not being able to model an assumption that GW risk to the economy is higher than the baseline, with greater risk if not addressed?
  • And, some assumptions seem to be tailored to be negative. For example, there is an assumption that renewable energies will (can) not develop to be cost competitive with fossil fuels without price increases.  This rejects the potential of Google’s RE<C effort.

Even with these (and other) problems, this is a useful site to add into the discussion, providing a path to reduce confusion about modeling of economic implications of addressing Global Warming.

Hat Tip to afew at EuroTribune

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