From a comment at Bart's
Richard Tol wrote: “under the most ethical frameworks” is a crucial qualification. The imperative for action does not follow from the science, but rather from the ethics. And indeed it is difficult to configure the facts and values such that there would be no climate policy.”This is revealing. First, since science assigns no value to anything, it cannot provide an imperative for action. That leaves economics and ethics. Since the time frame separating action to ameliorate climate change’s bad effects and the effects themselves if no action is taken is so large, economics is basically useless. That leaves ethics.
Which means that Stern was right and Tol was Tol. The Weasel still don't get it and Eli has to spell it out for him:
Eli is curious about the economic theory of Stoat that justifies the Bunny paying squat all for the benefit of Wm.'s grandchildren. Back to basics. What has posterity ever done for us?
Carbon taxes are only justified by moral analysis of the problem.
[No, not at all. CT is justified by std economic theory. I strongly dislike trying to solve this on the basis of morality, because I think it is doomed. We don't have a common morality, there is no basis for a framework -W]
Go read Gardiner on the perfect intergenerational problem. WRT climate change earlier generations impose problems on later ones in a way that only benefits the earlier ones.
Where economics plays a part is finding the lowest cost method of sharing the problems equitably. You have conceded the argument without realising it.
[Certainly, if you're doing an economic analysis you're obliged to balance costs and benefits - there is no other way (rather in the way that physics fundamentally depends on maths). But your description is inaccurate: if the economic analysis showed that the costs of the problems was greater than the good of emissions, the std economic analysis would be to not do the emissions. Asserting that economics merely shares out the problems is completely wrong -W]