Waldhoff, Stephanie Anthoff, David Rose, Steven Tol, Richard S. J.
Year of Publication:
Economics Discussion Papers 2011-43
We use FUND 3.5 to estimate the social cost of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulphur hexafluoride emissions. We show the results of a range of sensitivity analyses, focusing on the impact of carbon dioxide fertilization. Ignored in previous studies of the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide fertilization has a positive effect at the margin, but only for carbon dioxide. Because of this, the ratio of the social cost of a greenhouse gas to that of carbon dioxide (the global damage potential) is higher - that is, previous papers underestimated the importance of reducing non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions. When leaving out carbon dioxide fertilization, our estimate of the social cost of methane is comparable to previous estimates. Our estimate of the global damage potential of methane is close to the estimates of the global warming potential because discounting roughly cancels carbon dioxide fertilization. Our estimate of the social cost of nitrous oxide is higher than previous estimates, also when omitting carbon dioxide fertilization. This is because, in FUND, vulnerability to climate change falls over time (with development) while in the long run carbon dioxide is a more potent greenhouse gas than nitrous oxide. Our estimate of the global damage potential of nitrous oxide is larger than the global warming potential because of carbon dioxide fertilization, discounting, and rising atmospheric concentrations of both gases. Our estimate of the social cost of sulphur hexafluoride is similar to the one previous estimate. Its global damage potential is higher than the global warming potential because of carbon dioxide fertilization, discounting, and rising concentrations.