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Responding to threats of climate change mega-catastrophes, Volume 1
Author:Kousky, Carolyn; Rostapshova, Olga; Toman, Michael; Zeckhauser, Richard; Country:World;
Date Stored:2009/11/12Document Date:2009/11/01
Document Type:Policy Research Working PaperSubTopics:Hazard Risk Management; Transport and Environment; Science of Climate Change; Climate Change Economics; Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases
Language:EnglishRegion:The World Region
Report Number:WPS5127Collection Title:Policy Research working paper ; no. WPS 5127
Volume No:1  

Summary: There is a low but uncertain probability that climate change could trigger "mega-catastrophes," severe and at least partly irreversible adverse effects across broad regions. This paper first discusses the state of current knowledge and the defining characteristics of potential climate change mega-catastrophes. While some of these characteristics present difficulties for using standard rational choice methods to evaluate response options, there is still a need to balance the benefits and costs of different possible responses with appropriate attention to the uncertainties. To that end, the authors present a qualitative analysis of three options for mitigating the risk of climate mega-catastrophes - drastic abatement of greenhouse gas emissions, development and implementation of geoengineering, and large-scale ex ante adaptation - against the criteria of efficacy, cost, robustness, and flexibility. They discuss the composition of a sound portfolio of initial investments in reducing the risk of climate change mega-catastrophes.

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