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Intergenerational equity under catastrophic climate change

Author

Listed:
  • Aurélie Méjean

    () (CNRS-CIRED)

  • Antonin Pottier

    () (Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne – CNRS)

  • Stéphane Zuber

    () (PSE-CNRS)

  • Marc Fleurbaey

    () (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University)

Abstract

Climate change raises the issue of intergenerational equity. As climate change threatens irreversible and dangerous impacts, possibly leading to extinction, the most relevant trade-off may not be between present and future consumption, but between present consumption and the mere existence of future generations. To investigate this trade-off, we build an integrated assessment model that explicitly accounts for the risk of extinction of future generations. We compare different climate policies, which change the probability of catastrophic outcomes yielding an early extinction, within the class of variable population utilitarian social welfare functions. We show that the risk of extinction is the main driver of the preferred policy over climate damages. We analyze the role of inequality aversion and population ethics. Usually a preference for large populations and a low inequality aversion favour the most ambitious climate policy, although there are cases where the effect of inequality aversion is reversed.

Suggested Citation

  • Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Stéphane Zuber & Marc Fleurbaey, 2017. "Intergenerational equity under catastrophic climate change," Working Papers 2017.25, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:fae:wpaper:2017.25
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Climate Change; Catastrophic risk; Equity; Population; Climate-economy model;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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