Risk Management and Climate Change
The selection of climate policies should be an exercise in risk management reflecting the many relevant sources of uncertainty. Studies of climate change and its impacts rarely yield consensus on the distribution of exposure, vulnerability, or possible outcomes. Hence policy analysis cannot effectively evaluate alternatives using standard approaches such as expected utility theory and benefit-cost analysis. This Perspective highlights the value of robust decision-making tools designed for situations, such as evaluating climate policies, where generally agreed-upon probability distributions are not available and stakeholders differ in their degree of risk tolerance. This broader risk management approach enables one to examine a range of possible outcomes and the uncertainty surrounding their likelihoods.
Thanks to Linus Mattauch for research assistance and to Malte Meinshausen for the data used in Figure 1. Simon Dietz, Kristie Ebi, Christian Gollier, Robin Gregory, Benjamin Horton, Elmar Kriegler, Katharine Mach, Michael Mastrandrea, Anthony Millner, Michael Oppenheimer and Christian Träger provided comments on earlier versions of the paper. Partial support for this research came from the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center's. Extreme Events project, the National Science Foundation (SES-1062039 and 1048716), the Travelers Foundation, the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making (NSF Cooperative Agreement SES-0949710 with Carnegie Mellon University), the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED; NSF Cooperative Agreement SES-0345840 to Columbia University) and CREATE at University of Southern California. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Nature Climate Change | Perspective Print Share/bookmark Risk management and climate change Howard Kunreuther, Geoffrey Heal, Myles Allen, Ottmar Edenhofer, Christopher B. Field & Gary Yohe Affiliations Contributions Corresponding author Nature Climate Change 3, 447–450 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1740 Received 29 June 2012 Accepted 09 October 2012 Published online 24 March 2013