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Conceptualising climate futures

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lewis Bremner.

Climate action is often presented by policymakers as an economic issue: what would strong regulation to curb emissions do to our economies, what are the most cost-efficient switches, and so on. Yet many normative questions without easy answers arise about burden-sharing and values. Although economics face limitations when applied to complex, large-scale societal challenges like climate change, I wish to highlight a potentially important role for economic methodology. This is the need for economists to illustrate the desirability of greater climate action through modelling more innovative, optimistic scenarios, where the emphasis is on what could be, rather than where the current policies are leading us. We should not ignore the big challenges ahead or engage in ‘climate dreaming’: dismissing the need for urgent mitigation action now in the hope that technological innovations will come to save us. But what gets too little attention is how fast things can sometimes change and how radically some parameters have already changed in the recent years. While ethical values need to be weighed in participatory debates, climate economics can engage in elucidating what is possible and desirable.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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