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Andrew W. Lo and Ruixun Zhang

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Andrew W. Lo and Ruixun Zhang

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Andrew W. Lo and Ruixun Zhang

This research review discusses and analyses a unique collection of key publications at the intersection of biology and economics, two disciplines that share a common subject: Homo sapiens. Beginning with Thomas Malthus— whose dire predictions of mass starvation due to population growth influenced Charles Darwin— economists have routinely used biological arguments in their models and methods. The review summarizes the most important of these developments in areas such as sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral ecology, behavioral economics and finance, neuroeconomics, and behavioral genomics. This research review will be an indispensable tool for economists, biologists, and practitioners looking to develop a deeper understanding of the limits of Homo economicus.
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Andrew W. Lo and Ruixun Zhang

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Sustainable wellbeing, necessary emissions and fair burdens

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Chapter 4 discusses some of the questions, dilemmas and opportunities that arise when the claims of human need confront the present global economic system. It asks what would constitute a moral minimum of need satisfaction across today’s world and then tries to estimate what ‘necessary emissions’ that would entail. Meeting needs will always be a lower carbon path than meeting untrammelled consumer preferences financed by ever-growing incomes. But whether it is low enough to protect the needs of future generations will depend on, first, the conflicts and synergies between the SDGs and a 2 °C mitigation strategy and, second, the presence of a global equity framework. All existing strategies ignore the role of consumption in the affluent world, yet sustainability and distribution are intimately connected. My conclusion is that equity, redistribution and prioritising human needs, far from being diversions from the basic task of decarbonising the economy, are critical climate policies.

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The social dimensions of climate change

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Chapter 1 summarises our best knowledge about the predicted future of global warming and its potentially catastrophic implications for human habitats and human wellbeing. The policy options are summarised, divided between programmes to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it. But climate policy alone could be unjust and inequitable. The goal must be to respect biophysical boundaries while at the same time pursuing sustainable wellbeing: that is, wellbeing for all current peoples as well as for future generations. This means paying attention to its distribution between peoples, and to issues of equity and social justice. Between an upper boundary set by biophysical limits and a lower boundary set by decent levels of wellbeing for all today lies a safe and just space for humanity. The chapter concludes by noting two global landmarks in 2015: the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement. Together they reveal a yawning gap between what is needed for a safe climate and the prospects for a just and flourishing society.

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Post-growth, redistribution and wellbeing

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Chapter 8 takes off from the argument that even a combination of radical eco-efficiency and recomposing consumption will not cut emissions fast enough to avoid dangerous global warming if economic growth continues in the rich world. It sets out some basic features of a post-growth or degrowth economy: an emphasis on reproduction not production, investment not consumption, more discretionary time not more commodities, more equality and redistribution not less. This would profoundly affect all existing welfare states, which are premised on economic growth. A variety of policy solutions are considered, including spreading wealth more evenly through alternative forms of taxation and ownership, and fostering the core or social economy. An economy and a society that can no longer rely on annual growth will require a radical redistribution of carbon, time and the ownership of wealth. The most realistic policy to achieve this transition, it is argued, is gradually to reduce paid work time – another vital eco-social policy.

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Human needs and sustainable wellbeing

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Chapter 2 sets out a novel normative framework to judge progress in both human welfare and planetary sustainability: universal human needs and their satisfaction. It outlines a theory of human need and identifies health and autonomy as fundamental needs universally required to enable people to participate in their social forms of life. It goes on to distinguish these universal needs from culturally specific satisfiers and sketches a way of assessing the latter. These material satisfiers themselves require a set of institutions to decide on and produce them in a sustainable way. Finally, the chapter restates the strong normative priorities that follow: meeting people’s basic needs, now and in the future, should be the first priority of justice, and satisfying needs thus takes moral precedence over satisfying consumer preferences.

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Heat, Greed and Human Need

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

This book builds an essential bridge between climate change and social policy. Combining ethics and human need theory with political economy and climate science, it offers a long-term, interdisciplinary analysis of the prospects for sustainable development and social justice. Beyond ‘green growth’ (which assumes an unprecedented rise in the emissions efficiency of production) it envisages two further policy stages vital for rich countries: a progressive ‘recomposition’ of consumption, and a post-growth ceiling on demand. An essential resource for scholars and policymakers.
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From welfare states to climate mitigation states?

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Chapter 5 starts with social policies and their embodiment in Western ‘welfare states’. What are the new climate-related risks we can expect in the developed world and what are their implications for social policy? The chapter traces the development of welfare states and shows how they are being eroded by external and internal pressures, and have been outflanked by a rise in inequality. It applies comparative policy analysis to outline parallels between ‘climate mitigation states’ and welfare states. Such a survey reveals both common trends and significant national and regional variations. The chapter concludes by distinguishing three routes to decarbonisation – green growth, recomposed consumption, and degrowth. It sets up a framework for tracking the relationship between climate policy and social policy within these routes, which is applied in the remaining chapters.