Keywords: climate politics, uncertainty, economic perspectives, Stern Report, climate change economics, green economics, emissions reductions, finance, investment
Reducing problems through reduced complexity? Considering the benefits and limits of economic perspectives on climate change
Economic perspectives on climate change loom large since the publication of the commonly called Stern Report, Economics of Climate Change. A great number of studies subsequently employ similar approaches. Considering the huge uncertainties in climate science, however, these calculations raise a number of questions: How can costs and benefits of emissions reductions be assessed and compared for time frames up to 200 years? What is the basic rationality these studies rely on? And how can the high relevance of this perspective be explained? To answer these questions, this paper examines three corresponding studies and highlights their role for current political debates. The reduction of complexity in these studies allows for a certain economic perspective on climate change. Drawing on discourse theory, this perspective is located within a wider economic rationality within climate politics that suggests finance and investment as response strategies.