14th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Wells

Joshua Wells

The limitations of economics in the case of geoengineering: Some ethical concerns about economic analysis

Geoengineering is a term given to technologies with the intention of altering the climate on a large scale, as a response to climate change. This raises many questions of ethical concern, however economic analysis is a poor tool in this case for capturing the ethical issues. My paper shall argue a dominant approach in economics analysis, namely cost benefit analysis, is not appropriate to engage with the ethical and governance problems. The concerns I highlight are threefold, they are concerns regarding how to put a monetary value on non-monetary items, secondly whether cost-benefit analysis can capture what is at stake. And finally I shall put the concerns together to highlight the danger of using cost-benefit analysis to answer the question of whether we should perform geoengineering at the level of global governance.