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Responding to threats of climate change mega-catastrophes, Volume 1
 
Author:Kousky, Carolyn; Rostapshova, Olga; Toman, Michael; Zeckhauser, Richard; Collection Title:Policy Research working paper ; no. WPS 5127
Country:World; Date Stored:2009/11/12
Document Date:2009/11/01Document Type:Policy Research Working Paper
SubTopics:Transport and Environment; Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases; Climate Change Economics; Hazard Risk Management; Science of Climate ChangeLanguage:English
Region:The World RegionReport Number:WPS5127
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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