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Summary Report No. 96

The Time Scales of the Climate-Economy Feedback and the Climatic Cost of Growth

S. Hallegatte (April 2005)

This paper is based on the perception that the inertia of climate and socio-economic systems are key parameters in the climate change issue. In a first part, it develops and implements a new approach based on a simple integrated model with a particular focus on an innovative transient impact and adaptation modelling. In a second part, a climate-economy feedback is defined and characterized. It is found that: (i) it has a 70-year characteristic time, which is long when compared to the system’s other time-scales, and it cannot act as a natural damping process of climate change; (ii) mitigation has to be anticipated since the feedback of an emission reduction on the economy is significant only after a 20-year delay and really efficient after a one-century delay; (iii) the IPCC methodology, that neglects the feedback from impacts to emissions, is acceptable up to 2100, whatever is the level of impacts. This analysis allows also to define a climatic cost of growth as the additional climate change damages due to the additional emissions linked to economic growth. Usefully, this metric for climate change damages is particularly independent of the baseline scenario.


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