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The Long Time Scales of the Climate-Economy Feedback and the Climatic Cost of Growth

S. Hallegatte ( Environmental Modelling and Assessment 10(4), 277 - 289, 2005)

mercredi 18 juin 2008

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This paper is based on the perception that the inertia of climate and socio-economic systems are key parameters in the climate change issue. In a first part, it develops and implements a new approach based on a simple integrated model with a particular focus on an innovative transient impact and adaptation modeling. In a second part, a climate-economy feedback is defined and characterized. It is found that : (i) it has a long characteristic time, which lies between 50 and 100 years depending on the hypotheses. This time-scale is long when compared to the system’s other time-scales, and the feedback cannot act as a natural damping process of climate change ; (ii) mitigation has to be anticipated since the feedback of an emission reduction on the economy can be significant only after a 20-year delay and is really efficient only after at least 50 years ; (iii) even discounted, production changes due to an action on emissions are significant over more than one century ; (iv) the IPCC methodology, that neglects the feedback from impacts to emissions, is acceptable up to 2100, whatever is the level of impacts. This analysis allows also to define a climatic cost of growth as the additional climate change damages due to the additional emissions linked to economic growth.

Keywords : Climate change, impacts, economic growth, feedback analysis

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