Keywords: climate change, green economics, environmental ethics, policy, social discount rate, politics
Climate change policy and the social discount rate: political not ethical
A prominent strand in recent discussions of climate change policy concerns the value of the social discount rate (SDR). Some argue that the parameters that determine the value of the SDR should be viewed as ethical parameters. Additionally, those who defend an ethical approach tend to believe that normative support for the value of the SDR should come from the general public's moral beliefs. However, it should be shown why a non-anthropocentric approach, one that bypasses what people think altogether, has no claim to determine climate change policy. I argue in this paper that a political, pluralist approach towards the determination of the SDR is required to take adequate account of non-anthropocentric points of view. However, once the SDR is viewed as political, rather than ethical, the policy model, of which the SDR is a key part, becomes of little theoretical or practical use.