In an effort to be useful to the Climate Impact Lab’s social cost of carbon (SCC) team, this talk will examine the team’s recent suggestion that the philosophical concept known as the veil of ignorance underlies “the most intellectually coherent method for valuing the damages from climate change” (EPIC, “US Energy & Climate Roadmap”, 2021, p. 43). The CIL team appears to think that the veil of ignorance is required to justify a unified and cogent approach to discounting, equity-weighting, and social risk-aversion. In this talk I will seek to persuade the CIL team to abandon the veil of ignorance for an alternative superior framework that still gives the team everything it wants. In the course of making this case, I will distinguish between four different SCC concepts, and I will stress the importance for these concepts, and for veil of ignorance-based reasoning, of clarity concerning the role of interpersonal comparisons of utility.
Past Faculty Workshop•May 09, 2023
Paul Kelleher, University of Wisconsin–Madison
“Social Costs of Carbon and the Veil of Ignorance"