Environmental

Working Papers

Abstract: Global warming is a worldwide and protracted phenomenon with heterogeneous local economic effects. In order to evaluate the aggregate and local economic consequences of higher temperatures, we propose a dynamic economic assessment model of the world economy with high spatial resolution. Our model features a number of mechanisms through which individuals can adapt to global warming, including costly trade and migration, and local technological innovations and natality rates. We quantify the model at a 1° × 1° resolution and estimate damage functions that determine the impact of temperature changes on a region’s fundamental productivity and amenities depending on local temperatures. Our baseline results show welfare losses as large as 15% in parts of Africa and Latin America but also high heterogeneity across locations, with northern regions in Siberia, Canada, and Alaska experiencing gains. Our results indicate large uncertainty about average welfare effects and point to migration and, to a lesser extent, innovation as important adaptation mechanisms. We use the model to assess the impact of carbon taxes, abatement technologies, and clean energy subsidies. Carbon taxes delay consumption of fossil fuels and help flatten the temperature curve but are much more effective when an abatement technology is forthcoming.

Abstract: This paper quantitatively assesses the world's changing economic geography and sectoral specialization due to global warming. It proposes a two-sector dynamic spatial growth model that incorporates the relation between economic activity, carbon emissions, and temperature. The model is taken to the data at the 1° by 1° resolution for the entire world. Over a 200-year horizon, rising temperatures consistent with emissions under Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 push people and economic activity northwards to Siberia, Canada, and Scandinavia. Compared to a world without climate change, clusters of agricultural specialization shift from Central Africa, Brazil, and India's Ganges Valley, to Central Asia, parts of China and northern Canada. Equatorial latitudes that lose agriculture specialize more in non-agriculture but, due to their persistently low productivity, lose population. By the year 2200, predicted losses in real GDP and utility are 6% and 15%, respectively. Higher trade costs make adaptation through changes in sectoral specialization more costly, leading to less geographic concentration in agriculture and larger climate-induced migration.

Replication Files

Journal Publications

Abstract: Sea-level rise and ensuing permanent coastal inundation will cause spatial shifts in population and economic activity over the next 200 years. Using a highly spatially disaggregated, dynamic model of the world economy that accounts for the dynamics of migration, trade, and innovation, this paper estimates the consequences of probabilistic projections of local sea-level changes under different emissions scenarios. Under an intermediate greenhouse gas concentration trajectory, permanent flooding is projected to reduce global real GDP by an average of 0.19% in present value terms, with welfare declining by 0.24% as people move to places with less attractive amenities. By the year 2200 a projected 1.46% of world population will be displaced. Losses in many coastal localities are more than an order of magnitude larger, with some low-lying urban areas particularly hard hit. When ignoring the dynamic economic adaptation of investment and migration to flooding, the loss in real GDP in 2200 increases from 0.11% to 4.5%. This shows the importance of including dynamic adaptation in future loss models.

Replication Files

Abstract: We propose a dynamic spatial theory to analyze the geographic impact of climate change. Agricultural and manufacturing firms locate on a hemisphere. Trade is costly, firms innovate, and technology diffuses over space. Emissions from energy used in production contribute to the atmospheric stock of carbon, which increases temperature. Warming differs across latitudes and its effect on productivity varies across sectors. We calibrate the model to analyze how climate change affects the spatial distribution of economic activity, trade, migration, growth, and welfare. We assess quantitatively the impact of migration and trade restrictions, energy taxes, and innovation subsidies.