Climate Change and Intergenerational Fairness: Reconciling Ethics and Economics

Prof. Richard B. Howarth, PhD

Dartmouth College

Tuesday, February 7, 2006 - 1:15pm to 2:30pm

Mississippi Room, Coffman Memorial Union

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Moral theories emphasize the importance of stabilizing the Earth's climate to protect the rights or interests of future generations. Economic models, however, often discount the future at a rate that implies that comparatively little weight is attached to the benefits of climate change mitigation. This lecture explored and sought to resolve the tensions that exist between these two points of view, arguing that the use of high discount rates is inappropriate in this context on both philosophical and empirical grounds.

Prof Richard Howarth

Richard B. Howarth is Professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College. His work focuses on energy use, climate change, and ecological conservation. His research program explores the role of discounting, sustainability, and intergenerational fairness in evaluating longterm environmental policies; mathematical models of the relationship between economic growth, the natural environment, and human well-being; the role of public policies in promoting energy efficiency and the adoption of "clean" energy technologies; and the role of economic, social, and moral values in managing natural systems.