Department of Economics

Understanding the economic impacts of climate change

Professor Richard Tol, Professor of Economics, specialises in the economics of energy, environment, and climate. Since 1994, Professor Tol has been involved with all three working groups of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in roles ranging from Contributing Author to Convening Lead Author. 

Professor Tol’s research on the impacts of and adaptation to climate change is cited throughout the reports of working group 2, and his work on climate policy throughout the reports of working group 3. His work directly contributed to the reports of the IPCC, which together with former US Vice-President Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its work on climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts

Professor Tol has also worked as an advisor to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 2007. He has been instrumental in helping it to understand the economic impact of climate change and the methods and assumptions that underpin the estimation of the social cost of carbon (SCC).

 In particular, as a result of research by Professor Tol, in June 2013 the US government announced an increase in SCC from $24 to $38 a tonne in relation to microwave ovens, saving US consumers billions on their energy bills over coming decades and lowering CO2 emissions. 

Over the past two years the new estimate of the social cost of carbon has had further impact on a range of regulation in the US, from power supplies to refrigeration.  This has started to transform industrial, commercial and residential energy use in the USA and have the prospect of transforming energy use in power generation and transport.

For more information, see: Improving fuel- and energy-efficiency standards and Economic Impacts of Climate Change