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On the Relation between Discounting of Climate Change and Edgeworth-Pareto Substitutability

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  • Kögel, Tomas

Abstract

To justify substantial carbon emission reductions, recent literature on cost-benefit analysis of climate change suggests discounting environmental quality at a lower discount rate than the standard consumption discount rate. Recent literature also shows that a theoretical foundation for such a lower environmental discount rate requires rising willingness-to-pay for environmental quality (WTP). A widely believed better alternative is however to adjust instead future environmental benefits for rising WTP and to discount those benefits at the consumption discount rate. According to this latter approach, rising WTP is usually assumed not to change the consumption discount rate itself. Assuming environmental resource scarcity, the present paper shows that an unchanged consumption discount rate is however, by and large, only an appropriate assumption in the knife-edge case in which environmental quality and goods consumption are neither substitutes nor complements in the Edgeworth-Pareto sense (substitutes, respectively, complements in the Edgeworth-Pareto sense implies the marginal utility of goods consumption to be decreasing, respectively, increasing in environmental quality). --

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2009-27
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File URL: http://econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/27546/1/economics_2009-27.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its journal Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal.

Volume (Year): 3 (2009)
Issue (Month): 27 ()
Pages: 1-12

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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:7612

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Keywords: Discounting; cost-benefit analysis; climate change;

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References

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  1. Gerlagh, Reyer & van der Zwaan, B. C. C., 2002. "Long-Term Substitutability between Environmental and Man-Made Goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 329-345, September.
  2. Traeger, Christian P., 2008. "Sustainability, Limited Substitutability and Non-Constant Social Discount Rates," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt10d7d7n4, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  3. Weikard, Hans-Peter & Zhu, Xueqin, 2005. "Discounting and environmental quality: When should dual rates be used?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 868-878, September.
  4. Neumayer, Eric, 1999. "Global warming: discounting is not the issue, but substitutability is," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 33-43, January.
  5. Fisher, Anthony C & Krutilla, John V, 1975. "Resource Conservation, Environmental Preservation, and the Rate of Discount," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 358-70, August.
  6. Sterner, Thomas & Persson, U. Martin, 2007. "An Even Sterner Review: Introducing Relative Prices into the Discounting Debate," Discussion Papers dp-07-37, Resources For the Future.
  7. Tol, Richard S. J., 2004. "On dual-rate discounting," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 95-98, January.
  8. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
  9. J.K. Horowitz, 2002. "Preferences in the Future," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(3), pages 241-258, March.
  10. Ben Groom & Cameron Hepburn & Phoebe Koundouri & David Pearce, 2005. "Declining Discount Rates: The Long and the Short of it," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(4), pages 445-493, December.
  11. Robert A. Amano & Tony S. Wirjanto, 1998. "Government Expenditures and the Permanent-Income Model," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 719-730, July.
  12. John Creedy, 2007. "Discounting and the Social Time Preference Rate," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 989, The University of Melbourne.
  13. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Birol, Ekin & Koundouri, Phoebe & Kountouris, Yiannis, 2009. "Assessing the economic viability of alternative water resources in water-scarce regions: Combining economic valuation, cost-benefit analysis and discounting," IFPRI discussion papers 908, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Kögel, Tomas, 2011. "The social cost of carbon on an optimal balanced growth path," Economics Discussion Papers 2011-35, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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