IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wiw/wus009/5073.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Economics and Ethics of Human Induced Climate Change

Author

Listed:
  • Spash, Clive L.

    ()

  • Gattringer, Clemens

Abstract

Human induced climate change poses a series of ethical challenges to the current political economy, although it has often be regarded by economists as only an ethical issue for those concerned about future generations. The central debate in economics has then concerned the rate at which future costs and benefits should be discounted. Indeed the full range of ethical aspects of climate change are rarely even discussed. Despite recent high profile and lengthy academic papers on the topic the ethical remains at best superficial within climate change economics. Recognising the necessary role of ethical judgment poses a problem for economists who conduct exercises in cost-benefit analysis and deductive climate modelling under the presumption of an objectivity that excludes values. Priority is frequently given to orthodox economic methodology, but that this entails a consequentialist utilitarian philosophy is forgotten while the terms of the debate and understanding is simultaneously restricted. We set out to raise the relevance of a broader range of ethical issues including: intergenerational ethics as the basis for the discount rate, interregional distribution of harm, equity and justice issues concerning the allocation of carbon budgets, incommensurability in the context of compensation, and the relationship of climate ethics to economic growth. We argue that the pervasiveness of strong uncertainty in climate science, incommensurability of values and nonutilitarian ethics are inherent features of the climate policy debate. That mainstream economics is ill-equipped to address these issues relegates it to the category of misplaced concreteness and its policy prescriptions are then highly misleading misrepresentations of what constitutes ethical action. (authors' abstract)

Suggested Citation

  • Spash, Clive L. & Gattringer, Clemens, 2016. "The Economics and Ethics of Human Induced Climate Change," SRE-Discussion Papers 5073, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wus009:5073
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://epub.wu.ac.at/5073/
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. William R. Cline, 1992. "Economics of Global Warming, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 39.
    2. Spash, Clive L., 1994. "Double CO2 and beyond: benefits, costs and compensation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 27-36, May.
    3. Robert S. Pindyck, 2013. "Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 860-872, September.
    4. Funtowicz, Silvio O. & Ravetz, Jerome R., 1994. "The worth of a songbird: ecological economics as a post-normal science," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 197-207, August.
    5. d'Arge, Ralph C & Schulze, William D & Brookshire, David S, 1982. "Carbon Dioxide and Intergenerational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 251-256, May.
    6. Nordhaus, William D, 1977. "Economic Growth and Climate: The Carbon Dioxide Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 341-346, February.
    7. Michael Jakob & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2014. "Green growth, degrowth, and the commons," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(3), pages 447-468.
    8. Clive L. Spash, 2015. "Tackling Climate Change, Breaking the Frame of Modernity," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 24(4), pages 437-444, August.
    9. Ulrich Brand & Markus Wissen, 2013. "Crisis and continuity of capitalist society-nature relationships: The imperial mode of living and the limits to environmental governance," Review of International Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(4), pages 687-711, August.
    10. Clive L. Spash, 2007. "Review of The Economics of Climate Change (The Stern Review)," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 16(4), pages 532-535, November.
    11. repec:elg:eechap:15612_25 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Ha-Joon Chang, 2002. "Breaking the mould: an institutionalist political economy alternative to the neo-liberal theory of the market and the state," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(5), pages 539-559, September.
    13. Spash, Clive L., 2007. "The economics of climate change impacts a la Stern: Novel and nuanced or rhetorically restricted?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 706-713, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Climate change; economics; ethics; carbon budgets; discounting; compensation; harm; intergenerational equity; intragenerational distribution; justice; consequentialism; utilitarianism; incommensurability; risk; uncertainty; cost-benefit analysis; growth economy;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wus009:5073. 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: (WU Library). General contact details of provider: http://epub.wu.ac.at .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.