Part of the Climate Change and Environment Seminar Series (Lent term 2011), hosted jointly by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), and the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Speaker: Simon Buckle, Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College

Abstract of seminar

Some climate scientists have recently highlighted the potential importance of the cumulative carbon emissions as a robust yet flexible target for climate policy makers.

Using a stylised AK growth model with additive climate damages and sustainable preferences, we show that ‘cumulative carbon’ also has an ethical interpretation, embodying a trade off between present discounted welfare and long-term climate damages.

In this setting, concern for the long-term provides a strong driver for mitigation action. For a wide range of initial endowments (capital and CO2), an optimising agent would choose a unique level of cumulative CO2 emissions that equates the marginal economic benefits of emitting one more unit of CO2 and the associated long-term marginal damages. For other endowment levels, there are both resource constrained regions and areas where climate damages overwhelm the economy.

We discuss possible interpretations of different specifications of sustainable preferences.

If time allows, we will also briefly discuss the adoption of low-carbon technologies within this model.

Biography Dr Simon Buckle

Simon has been Policy Director at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College since its inception in September 2007.

Prior to joining the Grantham Institute, Simon was a senior UK diplomat and recently served in a range of overseas role in France, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Simon also spent four years working as an economist at the Bank of England and has a DPhil in theoretical physics.

In 2009, Simon led Imperial’s successful bid to establish a large-scale cross-European “Climate Knowledge and Innovation Network”, Climate KIC, which is now operational.

Simon is a member of the AVOID research programme’s scientific management team, which provides advice to the UK Government on avoiding dangerous climate change.

He is also a member of the Institute of Physics’ International Development Committee.

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