Tropical Forests, Tipping Points, and the Social Cost of Deforestation
Recent work has suggested that tropical forest and savanna represent alternative stable states, which are subject to drastic switches at tipping points, in response to changes in rainfall patterns and other drivers. Deforestation cost studies have ignored the likelihood and possible economic impact of a forest-savanna critical transition, therefore underestimating the true social cost of deforestation. We explore the implications of a forest-savanna critical transition and propose an alternative framework for calculating the economic value of a standing tropical forest. Our framework is based on an average incremental cost method, as opposed to currently used marginal cost methods, for the design of optimal land-use policy or payments for ecosystem services. We apply this framework to the calculation of the social cost of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
The authors acknowledge the support from MIT's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, MIT's International Policy Lab, and Centro de Pesquisa e Economia do Seguro of Funenseg, Brazil. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Franklin, Sergio L. & Pindyck, Robert S., 2018. "Tropical Forests, Tipping Points, and the Social Cost of Deforestation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 161-171. citation courtesy of