Public Theological Remarks on Time Discounting and Intergenerational Justice

in International Journal of Public Theology
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Abstract

This article inhabits an interdisciplinary space between ecological economics and public theology. After the publication of the 2007 Stern report a debate ensued about the way the economic tool of time discounting is applied as a means to assess the cost of climate change. In this article, the debate is reviewed and the notions of intergenerational justice, sacrifice, stewardship and servant leadership in the Christian tradition are subsequently identified as valuable resources that are recognized by a growing number of philosophers, economists and business leaders, as being of benefit to the conversation on the present generation’s responsibilities to future generations. Time discounting is regarded in this article as a morally questionable economic method to weigh the costs of climate change.

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References

1)

Willis Jenkins, ‘Global Ethics, Christian Theology, and the Challenge of Sustainability’, Worldview, 12 (2008), 197–217 at 214.

4)

OECD, Environmental Outlook to 2030 (Paris: OECD, 2008).

5)

Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 10.

6)

Ibid., p. 7.

7)

Ibid., p. 1.

8)

Ibid., p. 6.

9)

Ibid., p. 11.

10)

Ibid., p. 13.

11)

Indur Goklany, ‘Discounting the Future’, Regulation (Spring 2009), 36–40 at 36.

14)

Ibid., p. 36.

15)

Ibid., pp. 37–8.

16)

Olivier Godard, ‘Time Discounting and Long-Run Issues: The Controversy Raised By The Stern Review Of The Economics Of Climate Change’, OPEC Energy Review, (March 2009), 1–22 at 1.

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Goklany, ‘Discounting the Future’, 39–40.

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36)

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Rachel Muers, Living For the Future. Theological Ethics For Coming Generations (London: T. & T. Clark, 2008), p. 111 (original italics).

46)

Ibid., p. 125.

47)

Ibid., p. 814.

48)

Ibid., p. 815.

49)

Christopher Chapple, ‘Sacrifice and Sustainability’, Worldview, 12 (2008), 221–36.

52)

Mark Heuer, ‘Defining Stewardship: Towards An Organizational Culture Of Sustainability’, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 40 (2010), 32–41 at 33.

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