Yale Professor Democratizes Climate-Action Cost Models


With climate change likely to be an important issue for independent voters in the coming US Presidential elections, we are glad to see that Robert Repetto, an economics professor at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, has created a website where the several available macro-economic impact models are compared and major 'assumptions' tested.

Professor Repetto offers a bottom line:

"As Congress prepares to debate new legislation to address the threat of climate change, opponents claim that the costs of adopting the leading proposals would be ruinous to the U.S. economy," he said. "The world's leading economists who have studied the issue say that's wrong. And you can find out for yourself."
He has done something marvelous and new with his website design, some aspects of which might easily escape our first attention.

By distilling climate policy choices down to the most key, and letting you rate them all for reasonableness, - these being the ones to which the accepted econometric models are generally most 'sensitive' - anyone can model the economic impact of climate policy ideas being bandied about by politicians, lobbyists, Think Tank "experts" and newspaper editors. You don't have to be an mathematician or economist to work the scenarios.

The effect, we hope, will be to "disintermediate" the pundits and paid experts who so dominate American political life.

We analogize this hope to the easily-foreseen outcome of Netflix contributing to the disappearance of video rental store fronts, or of Expedia and similar on-line travel service companies making brick and mortar travel agents almost a thing of the past.

Because it's your future, we encourage you to have at it and let candidates for office know what you learned from the experience.

The interactive website, called SeeForYourself, synthesized thousands of policy analyses in order to identify the seven key assumptions accounting for most of the differences in the models' predictions. It allows visitors to the site to indicate how likely they believe each of these assumptions is, and on that basis see what the economic models would predict.

A selection of key assumptions:

* Renewable energy technologies will be available at stable or improving prices;

* higher fossil fuel prices will stimulate energy-saving technological change;

* reducing U.S. carbon emissions will reduce economic damages from climate change and air pollution; and,

* the United States will incorporate international trading of emission permits into its national policy.

"The more visitors to the site think that these assumptions are likely, the more favorable the models' predictions would be," said Repetto.

Via::Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, "Reducing Carbon Emissions Could Help, Not Harm, U.S. Economy"