Increases in agricultural productivity lower the social cost of carbon

Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ross McKitrick, Patrick J. Michaels Climate sensitivity, agricultural productivity and the social cost of carbon in FUND. Environmental Economics and Policy Studies. 2020

We explore the implications of recent empirical findings about CO2 fertilization and climate sensitivity on the social cost of carbon (SCC) in the FUND model. New compilations of satellite and experimental evidence suggest larger agricultural productivity gains due to CO2 growth are being experienced than are reflected in FUND parameterization. We also discuss recent studies applying empirical constraints to the probability distribution of equilibrium climate sensitivity and we argue that previous Monte Carlo analyses in IAMs have not adequately reflected the findings of this literature. Updating the distributions of these parameters under varying discount rates is influential on SCC estimates. The lower bound of the social cost of carbon is likely negative and the upper bound is much lower than previously claimed, at least through the mid-twenty-first century. Also the choice of discount rate becomes much less important under the updated parameter distributions.

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