It is possible to respond to climate change in a way that requires no sacrifice from anyone. At least, that is the conclusion of the standard economic theory of externalities. In particular, the present generation need not make a sacrifice for the sake of future generations. In negotiating policy for climate change, the international community can therefore appeal to people‘s self interest rather than their morality. However, this important conclusion is subject to doubt, because the standard theory of externalities does not apply accurately to intergenerational externalities. It relies on a notion of efficiency that fails for policies that affect the identities and numbers of people in future generations, as climate policies do. I aim to repair the damage to the theory, and preserve its conclusion as far as possible.
About the Speaker John Broome Emeritus White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford. He is the author of Weighing Goods (1995), Weighing Lives (2006), Climate Matters (2012) and Rationality Through Reasoning (2013). Professor Broome was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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