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Sustainability in the Presence of Global Warming: Theory and Empirics

Humberto Llavador (), John Roemer () and Joaquim Silvestre

No HDRP-2011-05, Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) from Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Abstract: Mankind must cooperate to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperature, with its concomitant effects on sea level, rainfall, drought, storms, agricultural production, and human migration. What is the appropriate way of evaluating how the costs of reducing GHG emissions should be shared across the present and future generations, and within the next few generations, across regions of the world? How should the intergenerational and inter-regional resource allocation be regulated? These are normative questions: their answers depend upon the theory of distributive justice held. We argue, with respect to the intergenerational question, for a theory of justice that is motivated by the concept of sustainability. With respect to the inter-regional issue, we do not take a fundamentally normative approach, but rather a political approach, where we propose what we believe is a politically acceptable solution to the bargaining problem that is at present taking place between major national actors (think: the US and China) concerning the reductions in GHGs that should be implemented. One reason for the difference in our approaches to these two problems is that future generations cannot bargain with us, and so we should take an ethical posture towards them. Major nations of the world, however, are actively engaged in arguing and bargaining over the second problem, and our role with respect to these negotiations is to behave like an arbitrator and propose what (we believe) is a mutually acceptable solution.

Keywords: Convergence; CO2 emissions; North-South; Climate Change; Sustainability; Growth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D62 D63 D90 O40 Q54 Q55 Q56 Q58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 51 pages
Date: 2011-11
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Published as background research for the 2011 Human Development Report.

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