A utilitarian notion of responsibility for sustainability
Joachim Fuenfgelt () and
Stefan Baumgaertner Additional contact information Joachim Fuenfgelt: Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University Lueneburg, Germany
Stefan Baumgaertner: Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Joachim Fünfgelt ()
We develop and formalize a utilitarian notion of responsibility for sustainability which is inspired by Singer's (1972) principle and the Brundtland Commission?s notion of sustainability (WCED 1987). We relate this notion of responsibility to established criteria for the assessment of intertemporal societal choice, namely Pareto-efficiency, (discounted) utilitarian welfare maximization, and Brundtland-sustainability. Using a two-generationsresource- model, we find the following. Sustainability and responsibility for sustainability are equivalent if and only if sustainability is feasible. If it is not, there still exists a responsible allocation which is also Pareto-efficient. Further, the utilitarian welfare maximum without discounting always fulfills the criterion of responsibility. Discounting may be responsible to a certain extent if sustainability is feasible. If sustainability is not feasible, discounting is not responsible.