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Catastrophic climate change, population ethics and intergenerational equity

Aurélie Méjean, Antonin Pottier, Marc Fleurbaey () and Stéphane Zuber
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Marc Fleurbaey: Princeton University

Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) from HAL

Abstract: Climate change threatens irreversible and dangerous impacts, possibly leading to extinction. The most relevant trade-off then 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. Using the class of number-dampened utilitarian social welfare functions, we compare different climate policies that change the probability of catastrophic outcomes yielding an early extinction. We analyse the role of inequality aversion and population ethics. Low inequality aversion and a preference for large populations favour the most ambitious climate policy, although there are cases where the effect of inequality aversion on the preferred policy is reversed. This is due to the fact that a higher inequality aversion both decreases the welfare loss of reducing consumption of the current generation and also decreases the welfare gain of reducing the future risk of extinction.

Keywords: Climate change; catastrophic risk; Equity; Population; Climate-economy model (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-11-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene and nep-env
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Published in Climatic Change, Springer Verlag, 2020, 163, pp.873-890. ⟨10.1007/s10584-020-02899-9⟩

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Journal Article: Catastrophic climate change, population ethics and intergenerational equity (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: Catastrophic climate change, population ethics and intergenerational equity (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: Catastrophic climate change, population ethics and intergenerational equity (2020) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-01599453

DOI: 10.1007/s10584-020-02899-9

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