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SEI working paper

Reason, Empathy, and Fair Play: The Climate Policy Gap

To achieve the greatest possible human welfare, SEI’s Climate and Regional Economics of Development (CRED) model calls for a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, beginning in the next decade and keeping cumulative 21st century carbon dioxide emissions below 2,000 Gt.

Frank Ackerman, Elizabeth A. Stanton, Ramón Bueno / Published on 18 April 2012

Stanton, E.A., F. Ackerman and R. Bueno (2012). Reason, Empathy, and Fair Play: The Climate Policy Gap. SEI Working Paper 2012-02, Somerville, MA, US.


This report explains why CRED recommends such stringent reductions when some other climate-economics models say that very slow emission reductions are the best policy. Beginning with a Weak Conventional policy – mimicking the basic assumptions used in the well-known DICE model – the authors make three successive changes to arrive at a recommendation for immediate, steep emission reductions:
Reason: The CRED Damages policy brings estimates of the economic damages from climate change in line with the most up-to-date science.
Empathy: The Strong Conventional policy adds greater concern about the well-being of future generations.
Fair Play: The CRED Optimal policy adds a third change – rich countries are able and should be willing to invest in emissions and poverty reduction in poorer countries.

The document includes a foreword by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development.

Download the paper (PDF, 1.7MB)

Note: A summary of this report has been published as a UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) policy brief. Download it here (external link to PDF, 293kb)

About SEI Working Papers:
The SEI working paper series aims to expand and accelerate the availability of our research, stimulate discussion, and elicit feedback. SEI working papers are work in progress and typically contain preliminary research, analysis, findings, and recommendations.
Many SEI working papers are drafts that will be subsequently revised for a refereed journal or book. Other papers share timely and innovative knowledge that we consider valuable and policy-relevant, but which may not be intended for later publication.

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