CEBA talks 2020-2022
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Climate Change Heterogeneity: a New Quantitative Approach

Authors: Maria Dolores Gadea and Jesus Gonzalo

Abstract: Climate change is a non-uniform phenomenon. This paper proposes a new quantitative methodology to characterize, measure, and test the existence of climate change heterogeneity. It consists of three steps. First, we introduce a new testable warming typology based on the evolution of the trend of the whole temperature distribution and not only on the average. Second, we define the concepts of warming acceleration and warming amplification in a testable format. And third, we introduce the new testable concept of warming dominance to determine whether region A is suffering a worse warming process than region B. Applying this three-step methodology, we find that Spain and the Globe experience a clear distributional warming process (beyond the standard average) but of different types. In both cases, this process is accelerating over time and is asymmetrically amplified. Overall, warming in Spain dominates the Globe in all the quantiles except the lower tail of the global temperature distribution that corresponds to the Arctic region. Our climate change heterogeneity results open the door to the need for a non-uniform causal-effect climate analysis that goes beyond the standard causality in mean as well as for a more efficient design of the mitigation-adaptation policies. In particular, the heterogeneity we find suggests that these policies should contain a common global component and a clear local-regional element. Future climate agreements should take the whole temperature distribution into account.

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