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Climate change ‘winners’ may owe financial compensation to polluters


Climate change is generally portrayed as an environmental and societal threat with entirely negative consequences. However, some sectors of the global economy may actually end up benefiting.

New economic and philosophical research argues that policymakers must consider both the beneficial effects of climate change to “climate winners” as well as its costs in order to appropriately incentivize actions that are best for society and for the environment.

The study by researchers from Princeton University, University College Cork, and HEC Montréal appears to be the first to develop a systematic, ethical framework for addressing climate winners — as well as those harmed — using financial transfers.

Their approach, called “Polluter Pays, Then Receives,” requires polluters to first compensate those most harmed by climate change. Subsequently, polluters would be eligible to receive compensation from those who are passively benefiting from climate change.

Published in Economics & Philosophy , the article emphasizes that, through climate change, greenhouse gas emitters affect a variety of individuals and groups both positively and negatively at different regional or sectoral scales, sometimes at the expense of other groups — what economists call “externalities.”

“With a global issue like climate change, it’s difficult for people to make decisions that account for the harm […]

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