Keywords: climate change, intergenerational equity, discount rate, ethics
Climate change, rights of future generations and intergenerational equity: an in-expert exploration of a dark and cloudy path
This paper stresses that the impacts of climate change would be distributed unevenly over future generations in a yet unknown way. It also discusses the limitations of mainstream economics to deal with issues of intergenerational equity, noting the possibilities of different ways to select an appropriate discount rate. Given these limitations, great care must be applied in using tools from economics on the problems considered. The paper looks into ways that international law defines intergenerational equity and considers the application of Weiss' three basic principles conservation of options, conservation of quality, and conservation of access, to the implementation of a system of "planetary rights". Finally, five different operational models are applied to ethical consideration of the concept of common, but differentiated responsibilities - utilitarian, realist (power relations), equitable commons, fiduciary trust, and earthrights.