Workshop Report: Economics facing the climate crisis: re-examining value diversity, wellbeing, growth, and uncertainty

This workshop, wich took place from the 30th to the 31st of March 2022 at the MCC, aimed to explore approaches to value diversity in climate economicmodels, in the context of both the urgency of climate policy, and increasing public contestation about appropriate solutions. The IPCC’s sixth assessment report highlights the unprecedented urgency of climate policies needed to limit warming to ‘well below’ 2°C. The last few years have also seen sustained public pressure on policymakers to deliver ambitious climate policy, spurred on by protest movements such as Fridays for Future and ExtinctionRebellion. Debates about appropriately ambitious climate policies reflect diverse values, which may not be well expressed in official policy discourses or policy assessment. One key disagreement is the assumption that economic growth is necessary for ambitious climate policy, which features in most of climate economics but is controversial among some sectors of the public. The IPCC has made this issue explicit for the first time in its history in the Sixth Assessment Report, where Working Group III examines limitations of growth-based Integrated Assessment Models for wellbeing and environmental sustainability. Model-specific assumptions in climate economics concerning uncertainty and risk also reflect certain values and disciplinary assumptions, but these may not reflect societal values concerning climate risk. It is unclear whether climate economics could integrate other societal values, or how this would affect model results. The prevalence of value diversity is also a key finding of IPBES’ forthcoming Values Assessment, which finds a wider range of environmental values in society than are usually reflected in conservation policy. However, the diversity of environmental values remains a blind spot for climate economics and are yet to be considered by the IPCC. Our discussions during the workshop reemphasized that deliberation could improve the choice of normative assumptions in climate economics.

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