Climate Change and a Robust Global Climate Policy

Emissions of carbon dioxide lead to global warming, but science has not been able to say how much. In light of this uncertainty, John Hassler evaluates three options in choosing climate policy: i) wait and see, ii) hope for the best and iii) follow a precautionary principle.

In this paper, John Hassler finds that waiting for more precise knowledge about how sensitive the climate is to emissions and how sensitive human welfare is to climate change is a highly risky strategy.

Although choosing an ambitious climate policy based on the precautionary principle may turn out to have been overambitious, the cost of such a policy mistake is low.

Therefore, in a situation of high uncertainty, a precautionary climate policy is the only policy that is robust to mistakes.

About the author

John Hassler is Professor of Economics and Deputy Director of the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University. He was the Chairman of the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council 2013-16 and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. He worked as advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Finance during the financial crisis and serves as scientific advisor to several Swedish government agencies. He was member of the European Economic Advisory Group between 2008 and 2012.

About the editor

Anna Willman is a Climate Policy Expert at Fores and holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Economics and Climate Change from London School of Economics.

About ELF

The European Liberal Forum (ELF)is the official political foundation of the European Liberal Party, the ALDE Party. Together with 46 member organisations, we work all over Europe to bring new ideas into the political debate, to provide a platform for discussion, and to empower citizens to make their voices heard. ELF was founded in 2007 to strengthen the liberal and democrat movement in Europe. Our work is guided by liberal ideals and a belief in the principle of freedom. We stand for a future-oriented Europe that offers opportunities for every citizen. ELF is engaged on all political levels, from the local to the European. We bring together a diverse network of national foundations, think tanks and other experts. At the same time, we are also close to, but independent from, the ALDE Party and other Liberal actors in Europe. In this role, our forum serves as a space for an open and informed exchange of views between a wide range of different actors.

About Tankesmedjan Fores

Fores – Forum for reforms, entrepreneurship and sustainability –is the green and liberal think tank based in Sweden. With one foot in academia and the other in the public debate, Fores works every day towards solutions and policies that strengthen the liberal democracy. Through our three work groups we seek scientifically based, forward-looking policies on Growth, Security and Trust.