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Le taux d’actualisation contre le principe de précaution?

Listed author(s):
  • Lecocq, Franck

    (Banque mondiale)

  • Hourcade, Jean-Charles

    (Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement)

The application of standard cost-benefit analysis to evaluate long-term policies has been heavily criticized, in particular because of discounting, which is accused of putting too little weight on the future, thus contradicting the precautionary principle. Based on the example of climate mitigation policies, we show why discounting, rigorously applied, is necessary to clarify the issues at stake in the decision. In particular, we demonstrate that, within a sequential decision-making framework with increasing information, the value of pure time discounting matters less than the assumptions we make about future growth, productivity of capital, preferences and beliefs about climate change impacts. We conclude that intergenerational equity issues go beyond the value of pure time preference. We must also pay attention to the nature of our bequest to future generations, in terms of stocks of physical capital and of knowledge in particular, because it shapes their ability to adapt to new information. L’utilisation du calcul économique sur le très long terme fait l’objet de critiques qui peuvent aller jusqu’à un rejet pur et simple, en particulier en raison de la technique de l’actualisation qui, en écrasant le poids du long terme, viendrait en contradiction avec le principe de précaution. Nous expliquons ici, sur la base de l’expérience des débats autour du changement climatique, en quoi, appliquée en toute rigueur, l’actualisation est au contraire un point de passage obligé pour clarifier les enjeux de la décision. Nous montrons en particulier que, dans un cadre de décision séquentielle avec acquisition d’information, le choix, qui restera toujours controversé, du coefficient de préférence pure pour le présent, importe moins que les hypothèses sur la croissance, sur la productivité du capital, sur les préférences des agents et sur leurs « croyances » vis-à-vis des dommages climatiques. Nous concluons sur le fait que le taux de préférence pure pour le présent ne saurait résumer à lui seul les questions de solidarité avec les générations futures. Il convient aussi d’examiner la nature de ce que nous léguons aux générations futures, en particulier les stocks de capital physique et de connaissance qui déterminent leurs capacités d’adaptation à de futures informations.

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Article provided by Société Canadienne de Science Economique in its journal L'Actualité économique.

Volume (Year): 80 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (Mars)
Pages: 41-65

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Handle: RePEc:ris:actuec:v:80:y:2004:i:1:p:41-65
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