Climate policy under sustainable discounted utilitarianism
Empirical evaluation of policies to mitigate climate change has been largely confined to the application of discounted utilitarianism (DU). DU is contro-versial, both due to the conditions through which it is justifed and due to its consequences for climate policies, where the discounting of future utility gains from present abatement efforts makes it harder for such measures to justify their present costs. In this paper, we propose sustainable discounted utilitari- anism (SDU) as an alternative principle for evaluation of climate policy. Unlike undiscounted utilitarianism, which always assigns zero relative weight to present utility, SDU is an axiomatically based criterion, which departs from DU by assigning zero weight to present utility if and only if it exceeds future welfare. Using the DICE integrated assessment model to run risk analysis, we show that it is possible for future welfare to be below present utility along a `business as usual' development path. Consequently SDU and DU differ, and willingness to pay for emissions reductions is (sometimes signifcantly) higher under SDU than under DU. Under SDU, stringent schedules of emissions reductions increase social welfare, even if the discount rate is relatively high.
|Date of creation:||10 Mar 2011|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1303-20, November.
- repec:oup:qjecon:v:90:y:1976:i:1:p:156-62 is not listed on IDEAS
- Geir B. Asheim & Tapan Mitra, 2009.
"Sustainability and Discounted Utilitarianism in Models of Economic Growth,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
2521, CESifo Group Munich.
- Asheim, Geir B. & Mitra, Tapan, 2010. "Sustainability and discounted utilitarianism in models of economic growth," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 148-169, March.
- David Anthoff & Richard Tol, 2009.
"The Impact of Climate Change on the Balanced Growth Equivalent: An Application of FUND,"
Environmental & Resource Economics,
European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 351-367, July.
- David Anthoff & Richard S. J. Tol, 2008. "The Impact of Climate Change on the Balanced-Growth-Equivalent: An Application of FUND," Papers WP228, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
- Fankhauser, Samuel & S.J. Tol, Richard, 2005.
"On climate change and economic growth,"
Resource and Energy Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 1-17, January.
- Stéphane Zuber & Geir B. Asheim, 2010.
"Justifying Social Discounting: The Rank-Discounted Utilitarian Approach,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
3192, CESifo Group Munich.
- Zuber, Stéphane & Asheim, Geir B., 2012. "Justifying social discounting: The rank-discounted utilitarian approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1572-1601.
- ZUBER, StÃ©phane, 2010. "Justifying social discounting: the rank-discounted utilitarian approach," CORE Discussion Papers 2010036, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Ackerman, Frank & Stanton, Elizabeth A. & Bueno, Ramón, 2010. "Fat tails, exponents, extreme uncertainty: Simulating catastrophe in DICE," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1657-1665, June.
- Weitzman, Martin L., 2009.
"On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change,"
3693423, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
- Graciela Chichilnisky, 1996.
"An axiomatic approach to sustainable development,"
Social Choice and Welfare,
Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 231-257, April.
- Marc Fleurbaey, 2007.
"Assessing Risky Social Situations,"
IDEP Working Papers
0703, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised Jan 2007.
- Dasgupta, Partha, 2001. "Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199247882, July.
- Martin L. Weitzman, 2010. "What Is The "Damages Function" For Global Warming — And What Difference Might It Make?," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 1(01), pages 57-69.
- Mirrlees, J. A. & Stern, N. H., 1972. "Fairly good plans," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 268-288, April.
- Geir Asheim & Tapan Mitra & Bertil Tungodden, 2012.
"Sustainable recursive social welfare functions,"
Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 267-292, February.
- Blackorby,Charles & Bossert,Walter & Donaldson,David J., 2005.
"Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics,"
Cambridge University Press, number 9780521532587.
- Blackorby,Charles & Bossert,Walter & Donaldson,David J., 2005. "Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521825511.
- Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D., 1999.
"Malthus and Climate Change: Betting on a Stable Population,"
University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series
qt9ks625sk, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
- Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D., 2001. "Malthus and Climate Change: Betting on a Stable Population," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 135-161, March.
- Hammond, Peter J, 1989. "Consistent Plans, Consequentialism, and Expected Utility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1445-49, November.
- Antoine Bommier & Stéphane Zuber, 2008. "Can preferences for catastrophe avoidance reconcile social discounting with intergenerational equity?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 415-434, October.
- Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Intergenerational Equity," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 197-222, 09.
- Nordhaus, William D, 1991. "To Slow or Not to Slow: The Economics of the Greenhouse Effect," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 920-37, July.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:37578. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (LSERO Manager)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.