15 Geo. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 957 (2017)
Descriptive versus Prescriptive Discounting in Climate Change Policy Analysis

handle is hein.journals/geojlap15 and id is 972 raw text is: 



    Descriptive Versus Prescriptive Discounting in
               Climate Change Policy Analysis


                             J. PAUL KELLEHER*


                                  ABSTRACT

  In cost-benefit analyses of climate change policy, a small change in the value
of a single technical parameter-the  so-called social discount rate-can make
the difference between recommending  a go-slow  approach to mitigating green-
house gas  emissions and recommending   immediate  and costly actions to curb
them. This paper aims to distinguish between five different approaches to social
discount rates, to criticize two of these, and to explain how the other three are
to some degree  mutually compatible. Along the way, I hope to shed some  new
and useful light on a longstanding debate in climate change economics between
so-called descriptivists and prescriptivists about social discounting. My ulti-
mate  goal is to offer a sketch of the conceptual landscape that makes visible
some  important facets of the debate that very often go unacknowledged.


                             TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION                    .......................................... 958

  I. PRESCRIPTIVISM vs. DESCRIPTIVISM         ........................   959


  II. OPPORTUNITY COST  DESCRIPTIVISM            ........................ 962


III. GOULDER-WILLIAMs DESCRIPTIVISM           ....................... 964


IV.  Two  TYPES  OF PRESCRIPTIVISM, AND ONE MORE TYPE  OF
     DESCRIPTIVISM                  ...................................... 974

CONCLUSION   ............................................ 977






  * Associate Professor of Bioethics and Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison. For very
helpful comments and discussion, I thank audience members at the Georgetown Institute for the Study
of Markets and Ethics conference on Ethics and What Is Not Seen, and John Broome, David Faraci,
Kian Mintz-Woo, and Lauren Hartzell Nichols. Any errors of interpretation or analysis are mine alone. I
also gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to
reproduce and use Figure 2, in the text. D 2017, J. Paul Kelleher.


957

What Is HeinOnline?

With comprehensive coverage of government documents and more than 2,400 journals from inception on hundreds of subjects such as political science, criminal justice, and human rights, HeinOnline is an affordable option for colleges and universities. Documents have the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?