Integrated Economic and Climate Modeling

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Discussion Paper

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This survey examines the history and current practice in integrated assessment models (IAMs) of the economics of climate change. It begins with a review of the emerging problem of climate change. The next section provides a brief sketch of the rise of IAMs in the 1970s and beyond. The subsequent section is an extended exposition of one IAM, the DICE/RICE family of models. The purpose of this description is to provide readers an example of how such a model is developed and what the major components are. The final section discusses major important open questions that continue to occupy IAM modelers. These involve issues such as the discount rate, uncertainty, the social cost of carbon, the potential for catastrophic climate change, algorithms, and fat-tailed distributions. These issues are ones that pose both deep intellectual challenges as well as important policy implications for climate change and climate-change policy.

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