Topic 2: What Actions Should be Taken on Climate Change?

Joshua Wells

What role should economics play in understanding climate justice?

Climate change attracts interests from many different disciplines, the role of the psychical sciences seems to be to explain how it has happened and predict what is going to happen. The role of the social sciences seems to be more concerned about what actions can and should be performed. Economics is one of those subjects which has engaged with what actions we should perform regarding climate change. From Nordhaus to Stern there have been significant, in-depth, analysis of this issue. This presentation is motivated by the concern that economists might do too much by themselves. For the economic analysis is often presented as action guiding, it tells us what we should do.

However, to understand what we ‘should do’ we have considerations beyond the realm of economics. Many philosophers are fond of ‘should do’ questions. In the context of climate change they often use tools, such as human rights, to understand what we should do; yet this does not fit conformably with the economic mode of analysis. Therefore, my question is what role should economics play in answering the ‘should do’ question regarding climate change and in doing so help us understand climate justice.

Sarah Najm

Economic aspects of burden-sharing in reducing CO2 emissions

There is wide academic agreement that climate change is a global threat, in which causes and consequences are widely spread. In particular, the rise in carbon dioxide emissions can be identified as a central cause behind it. On the other hand, sharing the burden of tackling climate change remains a cause of debate between economists and philosophers. Despite affirmative calls to reduce emissions, the asymmetric global response is still evident. To this end, this presentation aims to investigate the macro-economic rationale behind two concerns in the climate debate. An initial purpose is to analyse emissions trade-offs and the extent to which trade liberalization may have a prominent role. Emissions may simply migrate by offshoring polluting industries to countries with less restrictive environmental policies, hence, without precisely tackling the global perspective. Therefore, one could question if this may lead some countries to become greener on the expense of others. Secondly, based on the former discussion, one may challenge the validity of alternative emission rights in the context of climate agreements. This becomes problematic, in that alternative measurements may raise both ethical and economic concerns. For instance, one issue to consider is whether each individual on the planet has the same right to pollute irrespective of factor endowments.

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