are Dr Rich Rosen, who specialises in energy system planning and is a
senior fellow of the Tellus Institute, based in Boston, Massachusetts,
and Edeltraud Guenther, professor of environmental management and
accounting at Dresden University of Technology in Germany.
densely-argued analysis of the long-term economics of mitigating climate
change, they say, various kinds of uncertainties raise serious questions
about whether or not the net costs and benefits of mitigation over
periods as long as 50 years or a century can be known accurately enough
to be useful to policymakers and citizens.
Technological change, especially for energy efficiency technologies, is
a key factor in making the net economic results of mitigation unknowable
over the long term, they argue. So policymakers should not base
mitigation policy on the estimated net economic impacts computed by
integrated assessment models (IAM - models which combine scientific and
"mitigation policies must be forcefully implemented anyway given the
actual physical climate change crisis, in spite of the many
uncertainties involved in trying to predict the net economics of doing
argument directly challenges the many politicians and others who insist
that governments should adopt policies designed to limit climate change
only if they can make a strong economic case for doing so. Essentially,
it shifts the ground of the debate from "what is affordable?" to "what
authors say economic analyses of mitigating climate change rely on
flawed sets of IAM results, which are invalidated by uncertainty over
future technologies and their costs. They also believe changes in
production and consumption patterns will affect mitigation costs.
write: "Since the Western lifestyle can probably not serve as a role
model for the life styles of the nine billion people likely to inhabit
our planet by 2050, significant but unpredictable changes to consumption
and production patterns not incorporated in existing IAMs are likely to
occur, adding another layer of uncertainty to the economic calculations
made by these IAMs for the net costs and benefits of mitigating climate
IPCC and other scientific bodies should no longer report attempts at
calculating the net economic impacts of mitigating climate change..."
authors do not hide their scorn for the results provided by existing IAM
scenarios. These, they write, are "not useful because even the simplest
comparison of model results yields meaningless results — the
uncertainties are too profound."
by posing a question: "Should these findings and conclusions about the
inadequacies of current IAMs really matter to policymakers who are
trying to figure out when, and to what extent, to implement effective
climate change mitigation policies?
response is terse: "Our answer is 'no', because humanity would be wise
to mitigate climate change as quickly as possible without being
constrained by existing economic systems and institutions, or risk
making the world uninhabitable."
Climate News Network