PECS Student-Faculty Dinner: “Ethical and Empirical Parameters of Climate Policy,” Marc Fleurbaey
Speaker: Marc Fleurbaey, Robert E. Kuenne Professor in Economics and Humanistic Studies, Professor of Public Affairs and the University Center for Human Values
Abstract: Climate policy is analyzed as a cost-benefit problem by integrated assessment models. The policy that is “optimal” according to such models depends a lot on the choice of ethical parameters (how much priority should we give to the worse-off in the distribution, how much should we care about the future) and empirical assumptions: how much change in the climate to expect; how much damage that would entail; how these damages will be distributed over the population; and how the mitigation cost will be shared. Depending on these parameters and assumptions, the policy conclusion can go from “Scramble!” to “Relax!”. The interaction between parameters and assumptions is complex: caring more about the worse-off may increase or reduce the need for mitigation depending on the empirical assumptions about the distribution of impacts and mitigation costs.