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The Economics of Climate Change Who matters? Who decides who matters?

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1 The Economics of Climate Change Who matters? Who decides who matters?
Philosophy of Social Science Week 1, Winter Term, 2012

2 The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (30 October 2006)
Commissioned by Gordon Brown, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, ‘to understand more comprehensively the nature of the economic challenges and how they can be met in the UK and globally’. For a US take: cf. Jorgenson, Dale W., Richard J. Goettle, Brian H. Hurd, and Joel B. Smith U.S. Market Consequences of Global Climate Change. The Review met with hugely mixed reception…

3 www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=8954 - 53k
The Stern review on the economics of climate change completely fails to acknowledge the imminent decline in global oil production David Strahan - 53k Not stern enough The Stern review offers a way out of climate change catastrophe - but only by playing down the scale of the problem. //www.guardian.co.uk

4 Stern warning: The review on climate change marks a turning point
Stern warning: The review on climate change marks a turning point. From The Times The Stern Review: "It's balls” Recall the government’s “dodgy dossier” on Iraq? Now it’s issued another scare story. Am I the only businessman who is just a little bit dubious about economist Sir Nicholas Stern’s findings? GB Magazine, Jan 2007 by David Soskin

5 Baron Stern of Brentford
Lord (Nicholas) Stern is currently the IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at LSE and chairs LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and is also a Professor of the College de France. He sits as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords. He was Adviser to the UK Government on the Economics of Climate Change and Development, reporting to the Prime Minister from and during that period headed both the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and the Government Economic Service. From , Sir Nicholas was World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Development Economics.

6 It warns that if no action is taken:
The Stern Review forecasts that 1% of global gross domestic product (GDP) must be spent on tackling climate change immediately. It warns that if no action is taken: Floods from rising sea levels could displace up to 100 million people. Melting glaciers could cause water shortages for 1 in 6 of the world's population. Wildlife will be harmed; at worst up to 40% of species could become extinct. Droughts may create tens or even hundreds of millions of "climate refugees”.

7 Compare The cost of a global stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations: 1% global GDP (Stern Review) and higher by others, e.g. 2% (Lomborg, Kool It). This is 4% - 8% of United States GDP. If the United States bore the entire cost alone. Compare: Freeman and Guzman calculate US domestic costs of climate change impacts to be between 10% and 20% GDP. But note: all the figures are controversial.

8 “The conclusion of the review is essentially optimistic,” said Sir Nicholas. “There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change if we act now and act internationally. We can grow and be green.” The report identified carbon pricing, including carbon-emissions trading worldwide and green taxes, improved low- carbon technology, energy efficiency and halting deforestation as the main methods of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.

9 Recommendations from the Stern review aim for a temperature change of about 2˚C in 100 years, stabilizing at 3˚. “By contrast, along the more-gradual majoritarian optimal trajectories, CO2 concentrations a century from now are >600 ppm and E[ΔT] ≈ 2.5˚C – with temperatures expected to continue rising to well above E[ΔT] ≈ 3˚ after year 2105.” (Weitzman, 2) BUT see The Guardian, 6 August 2008 Prepare for global temperature rise of 4C, warns top scientist…Defra's chief adviser says we need strategy to adapt to potential catastrophic increase.

10 IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report

11 The Stern review recommends
immediate, decisive and expensive measures starting now to reduce CO2 emissions and green house gases. Because “our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.”

12 Dietz and Stern Simon Dietz: Co-Director, Grantham Institute
Environmental economist “The case for strong and urgent Action set out in the Review is based, first, on the severe risks that the science now identifies (together with the additional uncertainties that it raises but that are difficult to quantify) and, second, on the ethics of the responsibility of current generations for future generations. It is these two issues–risk and ethics—that are crucial.” (p 2) “…ethics must be at the heart of the economic analysis and cannot be put to one side.” (p 4)

13 Stern Review: ethical assumptions
“The breadth, magnitude and nature of impacts imply that several ethical perspectives, such as those focussing on welfare, equity and justice, freedoms and rights, are relevant … Questions of intra- and inter-generational equity are central.” (Stern 25) “…the strong, immediate action on climate change advocated by the authors is an implication of their views on intergenerational equity; it isn’t driven so much by the new climatic facts the authors have stressed.” (Dasgupta 2)

14 Milton Friedman: positive economics--
Chicago School economist Nobel prize winner Monetary theory, consumption analysis, stabilization policy Anti-Keynes Anti-government intervention Regan economic advisor It’s both Possible Desirable

15 Positive and normative economics
Positive v normative economics Positive economics – “ a body of systematized knowledge concerning what is”. (JN Keynes, in Friedman, 3) Normative economics – “a body of systematized knowledge discussing criteria of what ought to be”. (JN Keynes in Friedman, 3) Means v ends: Normative economics – or someone outside economics altogether – sets the ends; positive economics describes the means.

16 The value-free ideal Positive (value-free) economics:
Establish ‘objective’ claims ‘objectively’. Objective claims: report positive facts Objectively: use ‘objective’ methods – methods that do not presuppose the truth of any value claims. Examples of positive facts: The force exerted by the magnet is 2dynes. The grass in my garden now is greener than in my friend’s garden in Northern Alberta. The charge of an electron is… The import elasticity of demand for automobiles in Britain in 1979 is 1.3. Nancy is 5’5” tall.

17 Issues in Stern Review for value freedom
The recommendations depend on certain ethical assumptions. But economics should be value-free (wertfrei). Or should it? These assumptions are made by the wrong persons. Or not? Values for specific parameters are too ethically demanding. Or are they? δ – that measures how much the welfare of future generations counts. η – that reflects trade-offs between the poor (us!) and the rich (future generations!).

18 How far does positive economics reach?
Friedman: The distinction is relatively clear and positive economics rules: “I venture … that currently in the Western world…differences about economic policy amongst disinterested citizens derive predominantly from different predictions about the economic consequences of taking action – differences that can in principle be eliminated by the progress of positive economics – rather than from fundamental differences in basic values, differences about which men can ultimately only fight.” (5) Broome: “Economics is a branch of ethics… A great deal of economics is explicitly practical, and this practical side is a branch of ethics.

19 The problem: the intertwining of ‘facts’ and ‘values’
Example in Stern Review: Discounting Rich v poor Present v future generations These occur in choice of values of δ and η.

20 How this happens For public choice calculations, use a ‘rational choice’ framework where the aim is to maximize total utility. Utility = whatever it is that ‘really’ matters. Money is often a surrogate measure. Or, given ignorance, total expected utility. So maximize the expected value of U = ∑riUi(c). Given the difficulty of counting individuals, use ‘representative agents’ from each generation.

21 Importance to Stern results of the choice of discount rate
Weitzman: ‘The question for the Stern Review analysis then effectively becomes: is it worthwhile to sacrifice costs C ≈ 1% of GDP now to remove damages D ≈ 5% of GDP a century from now…by picking the extreme values η = 1, δ = 0.1%, Stern….is really stacking the deck in favour of approving such kind of fractional GDP swaps across time.’ Martin Weitzman, Harvard environmental economist

22 Discounting So, what is r doing there? That’s the rub.
It is typical in economic calculations to discount the future, because…. The future is uncertain. The future is less valuable. To whom? And who decides? Note for our discussion: the answer must depend on the role the discount factor plays in the model and what the model is for.

23 Uncertainty about the future
Justification for using a positive discount factor by economist/philosopher Amartya Sen in a different context (a model by Robert Lucas) : We may reasonably think the existence of future generations is uncertain… nuclear war for example. BUT (points out economist Tony Atkinson) in that context if you think that it is 40% probable we don’t survive into the next century this gives a discount factor of .5%: “an order of magnitude smaller” than the Lucas’s 1/0.95. What’s the analogous probability for the Stern Review discount factor?

24 The future matters less
We see this typically in savings and investment rates. We neither save nor invets as much as we should if we valued the futre as much as the present. But Whose future? Future generations. Matters to whom? To the social welfare calculation. Who decides that?

25 The welfare of future generations
Stern Review ‘We take a simple approach…: if a future generation will be present, we suppose that it has the same claim on our attentions as the current one.’ (35) ‘It is hard to see any ethical justification for [discounting the welfare of future generations]’. (35) That is clearly a value judgement. But then any choice of a discount rate is a moral judgement. The ‘maximize-expected-utility’ framework forces moral judgements in modelling assumptions.

26 Why discount future generations: η?
If consumption grows, future people are better off. How much better off is measured by η: the elasticity of marginal value wrt consumption. Suppose that a unit at the margin gives less utility to the rich than the poor. This, ala Broome, favours prioritarianism over (Broome’s version of) ‘pure’ utilitarianism: Broome: ‘According to the utilitarian formula, an addition to a person’s wellbeing counts the same whenever it occurs and to whomever it occurs.’ (5) A moral judgement is required willy-nilly. White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy, Oxford Formerly an economist at Birkbeck and at Bristol University

27 Why discount future generations: δ?
‘…δ is the rate of pure time preference…’ (Weitzman 5) Why discount future generations? They may not be there. δ measures that. ‘Impatience’ This hardly seems relevant across generations. We are the ones who decide what to do now and we decide not to care about future generations. Again, any value reflects a moral judgement.

28 So who should decicde, and how?
Stern Review: This a social policy issue and demands an ethical decision. All standard ethical frameworks deliver the same results: treat every generation equally. Weitzman: Stern is playing philosopher king. The people should decide. And we know what they think: just look at the actual savings rate.

29 Some (nontechnical) Stern and Dietz rejoinders
The savings rate reflects what we do about our own futures, not about what we should do what we believe we should do . Because of Weakness of the will Bad calculations Bad information Pessimistic predictions about living into the future.

30 Some rejoinders (cont.)
The savings rate is about our own future. That’s not the issue. The issue is: What rate should be used in a public policy calculation? How should a rate for this public policy calculation get settled then? Democratically? Who gets to vote? By ethical theory? Which? …?

31 Assignment for Friday discussion
Please prepare a defense of how the rate should get set, with some good reasons to back up your view. Be prepared to explain what the rate means and how it figures in the Stern review. Be sure you understand and can explain what a study like Stern’s of the economics of climate change is trying to do.

32 Which values? Whose values?
The Stern Review and Amartya Sen Philosophy of Social Science Week 2, Winter term, 2012

33 The Stern Review: Who sets discount rates?
Weitzman criticizes the Review for using a rate different from the preference ‘revealed’ in the savings rate. ‘For most economists, a major problem with Stern’s numbers is that people are not observed as if they are operating with δ ≈ 0, η ≈ 1.’ (8) Stern’s worldview tends to blow off market-based observations as being …largely irrelevant to long-run discounting, which should instead be based primarily upon the “ethical” value δ ≈ 0 that Stern imposes on a priori grounds. (8)

34 Objection to Weitzman: scientific
He makes two different conflations: Individual preferences regarding one’s own future ≠ preferences about future generations. Deeper (and controversial): revealed preferences ≠ real preferences or values, because of Bounded rationality. Akrasia (weakness of the will). The philosophic method is a better method for eliciting ‘real’ preferences than looking at how people behave, or so say Sen and Cartwright.

35 Objection to Weitzman: moral
On two grounds Who should decide the discount rate for future generations? Stern Review: moral theory. Weitzman: current people. The choice either way is a moral judgement. We ought to treat future generations equally. The Stern Review doesn’t propose this on ‘a priori’ grounds, but points to --

36 Standard ethical perspectives
‘…all the perspectives would take into account the distribution of outcomes within and across generations, together with the risks involved in different actions, now and over time. Hence the Review focuses on the implications of action or inaction on climate change for these four dimensions.’ (32) ‘How the implications for these four dimensions are assessed, will, of course, vary according to the ethical position adopted….’ (32) ‘In arriving at a decision, or a view, it is not, however, always necessary to derive a single number that gives full quantitative content and appropriate weight to all the dimensions and elements involved.’ (32)

37 Stern: ethical frameworks
Consequentialism Rights Liberty Freedom Justice Sustainable development: ‘future generations should have a right to a standard of living no lower than the current one.’ Stewardship

38 Stern: ethical frameworks
‘These different notions of ethics emphasise different aspects of the consequences of decisions for others and for the future. Nevertheless, the list of consequences on which they would focus for each generation are similar: above all consumption, health and environment.’

39 Amartya Sen Born 1933 in West Bengal.
Nobel 1998 ‘for his contributions to welfare economics’. Currently at Harvard (but appointments among others at Cambridge, Oxford and LSE). Master Trinity College, Cambridge Apart from technical work in welfare economics and social choice theory, his main contributions are in work on famine, development theory, the mechanisms of poverty and political philosophy.

40 Sen: Ethical frameworks
Development as Freedom, ch 3: A categorization of ethical frameworks relevant in economics – via the informational basis. An account of their pluses and minuses. A defence of his own capability approach.

41 Sen and the problem of the ‘informational basis’
Dinu The poorest Bishanno The unhappiest Rogini Suffers from a debilitating ailment

42 Sen on informational basis
Ethical frameworks can be evaluated using their informational basis: the information they allow one to include and to exclude in the (normative) evaluation of states of affairs.

43 3 kinds of ethical/political theory
Utilitarianism only takes people’s utilities into account (either preference satisfaction or happiness). It completely disregards rights and liberties (‘happy slave problem’), or includes them only in so far as these have a bearing on utility. Libertarianism exclusively focuses on the compliance with certain principles of liberty and propriety. But completely disregards outcomes. Sen offers a ‘middle of the road’ alternative that focuses on people’s substantive freedoms. 3 kinds of ethical/political theory

44 Utilitarianism Utilitarianism can be regarded as consisting of:
Consequentialism: Actions, rules etc. are to be evaluated in terms of their consequences alone. Welfarism: The relevant consequences are people’s levels of well-being (or utility). Sum-ranking: Utilities are simply summed up (without concern for, say, distribution).

45 Sen on Utilitarianism: Pro’s
The (albeit exaggerated) focus on results. The (again, perhaps exaggerated) attention to people’s well-being.

46 Sen on Utilitarianism: Con’s
Neglect of distributional issues. Neglect of rights, freedoms, justice Adaptation and mental conditioning.

47 Sen on Libertarianism & rights: Cons
Why priorititize rights when economic matters can be decisive for life and death? The ‘paradox of liberty’: through a series of legitimate exchanges people can lose their substantive freedom completely. Poverty and famines can arise without anyone’s rights being violated.

48 Sen on goods: Cons Income: often used because of its easy observability. Severe limitations– because people differ: Personal heterogeneities Environmental diversities Variations in social climate Differences in relational perspectives Distribution within the family. Access to ‘primary goods’, i.e., general-purpose means that help anyone to promote his/her ends. (Like: rights, liberties and opportunities, income and wealth, and the social bases for self-respect. Sen: subject to the same variations as income.

49 Adam Smith on needs By necessaries I understand not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but what ever the customs of the countries renders it indecent for creditable people, even the lowest order, to be without. A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking not a necessary of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want to which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad conduct.

50 Functionings and capabilities
Sen cashes out his notion of substantive freedom in terms of two concepts: functionings and capabilities. Functionings: the various things a person may value doing or being: being adequately nourished being free from avoidable disease being able to take part in the life of the community having self-respect. A person’s capability: the alternative combinations of functionings that are feasible for him/her to achieve.

51 Capabilities and freedom
A capability is a kind of freedom: the substantive freedom to achieve alternative functioning combinations.

52 Capability sets Literacy A ‘capability’ Nourishment Physical fitness
NB: The axes represent functionings, not monetary values (e.g., the state of being adequately nourished, not money spent on food). Physical fitness

53 What should count as a functioning?
Sen: Choice of functioning is a value choice. Martha Nussbaum: objective functionings; ones ‘we all value’. ‘...the position of women, as established by local traditions in many parts of the world, is to be improved, ...traditions of slave-holding and racial inequality, religious intolerance, aggressive and warlike conceptions of manliness, and unequal norms of material distribution are to be criticized…’ Professor of Law and Ethics University of Chicago Prolific writer on Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, emotions, the law, literature, gender issues, gay and lesbian rights – plus major contributions to political philosophy

54 Cases: Unemployment Why measures of well-being should be broader based than on income: unemployment European states traditionally do much better on inequality issues when only income inequality is looked at e.g. Gini coefficient – EU: .31 (NL: .309; UK: .34; GER: .27) vs US: .45. But: EU unemployment has been trending up (e.g., GER: 1% to %)while it stayed approx. the same in the US (4-5%). Unemployment has many effects other than loss of income: psychological harm, loss of motivation, skill and self-confidence, increase in morbidity and mortality, disruption of family relations and social life, social exclusion...

55 Cases: Health and Mortality
In terms of incomes, African Americans do much worse than Caucasian Americans. Is this relative (as opposed to absolute) poverty? Surely African Americans have an income above the $2 per day World Bank measure of absolute poverty and much higher than, say, Chinese or Indians. But: in terms of mortality, African Americans fall behind the much poorer Chinese and Indians from Kerala. Mortality rate ratios of blacks to whites (aged 35-54) 2.3 (1.6 income adjusted) overall, for women 2.9 (2.2 adjusted)! Recall that before the recent (2010) Health Care Reform, 50 million Americans were without health insurance.

56 Case: Gender Inequality
The ratio of women to men in Western countries exceeds 1.05 About 5% more boys than girls are born but women are ‘hardier’: given symmetrical care, they survive better. BUT: in many developing countries the female/male ratios can be as low as .95 (Egypt), .94 (Bangladesh, China), .93 (India) and .9 (Pakistan) If the same patterns as in the West were prevailing here, there would be some 100 million more women (‘missing women’). Though Western populations are still affected by the Great Wars And, the older the populations are, the more women we’d expect (so compare similarly old populations – most developing populations are much younger). This is serious to the extent that the data reflect differential rates of infanticide etc.

57 HDI The Human Development Index of the UN combines normalized measures of life expectancy Literacy educational attainment GDP per capita In the latest report, Norway ranked highest, UK 26, and for the last 10 years all groups of countries have gained.

58 Against the HDI It leaves out inequality unemployment
political freedom And aggregation conceals important differences:

59 Case: Development India and Sub-Saharan Africa are comparable in terms of infant mortality and adult literacy rate: Infant mortality/live births: 80/1000 (India) vs 104 (Sub-Saharan Africa) Worst states: 164/1000 (Ganjam/Orissa) vs 161 Mali Literacy female/male: 39/64 (India) vs 40/63 (Sub-Saharan Africa) But sharp differences in terms of mortality and nourishment: Life expectancy: 60 years (India) vs 52 years (Sub-Saharan Africa) Median age at death: 37 years (India) vs 5 years (Sub-Saharan Africa)! Undernourished children: 40-60% (India) vs 20-40% (Sub-Saharan Africa) ‘A constructed aggregate may often be far less interesting for policy analysis than the substantive pattern of diverse performances’

60 Conclusions The choice of ethical frameworks is an ethical one, whether utilitarianism, rights, stewardship, capabilities. Capabilities: there is no avoiding moral debate and discussion about what functionings to include. So, where welfare comes into play, moral judgement cannot be avoided. Leave it to the ‘consumer’ is a judgement like any other. If you don’t leave it to the customer, what do you do – AND WHAT JUSTIFIES THIS CHOICE?


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