Priority for the worse-off and the social cost of carbon

Matthew Adler, David Anthoff, Valentina Bosetti, Greg Garner, Klaus Keller, Nicolas Treich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a key tool in climate policy. The SCC expresses in monetary terms the social impact of the emission of a ton of CO2 in a given year. The SCC is calculated using a 'social welfare function'(SWF): a method for assessing social welfare. The dominant SWF in climate policy is the discounted-utilitarian SWF. Individuals'well-being numbers (utilities) are summed, and the values for later generations are reduced ('discounted'). This SWF has been criticized for ignoring the distribution of well-being and including an arbitrary time preference. Here, we use a 'prioritarian'SWF, with no time discount, to calculate the SCC. This SWF gives extra weight ('priority') to worse-off individuals. Prioritarianism is a well-developed concept in ethics and welfare economics, but has been rarely used in climate scholarship. We find substantial differences between the discounted-utilitarian and non-discounted prioritarian SCCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-449
Number of pages7
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume7
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

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social costs
social welfare
carbon
climate policy
environmental policy
well-being
welfare economics
social impact
social cost
ethics
social effects
moral philosophy
climate
Values

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Adler, M., Anthoff, D., Bosetti, V., Garner, G., Keller, K., & Treich, N. (2017). Priority for the worse-off and the social cost of carbon. Nature Climate Change, 7(6), 443-449. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3298
Adler, Matthew ; Anthoff, David ; Bosetti, Valentina ; Garner, Greg ; Keller, Klaus ; Treich, Nicolas. / Priority for the worse-off and the social cost of carbon. In: Nature Climate Change. 2017 ; Vol. 7, No. 6. pp. 443-449.
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Adler, M, Anthoff, D, Bosetti, V, Garner, G, Keller, K & Treich, N 2017, 'Priority for the worse-off and the social cost of carbon', Nature Climate Change, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 443-449. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3298

Priority for the worse-off and the social cost of carbon. / Adler, Matthew; Anthoff, David; Bosetti, Valentina; Garner, Greg; Keller, Klaus; Treich, Nicolas.

In: Nature Climate Change, Vol. 7, No. 6, 01.06.2017, p. 443-449.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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