Economics serving society

Ethics, Inequality, Political Economy

The enlargement of the problematic must certainly go as far as integrating the questions of inter and intra-generational equity as well as the modes of deliberation and collective decision making of citizens in order to measure and contribute to the social acceptability of the transitions at stake. The question of redistributive effects and inequalities generated by environmental policies is an essential social dimension that can no longer be left aside.

This project focuses on the political economy of climate change and social identities. It begins with the observation that recent years have been marked by the rise of various citizen protest movements related to environmental policy-making. Given the urgency of addressing global environmental problems, it is essential to understand how these new citizen divides are formed and how these divisions affect environmental policy decisions. It is also a question of proposing methods to better integrate the social dimension (inequalities) into the evaluation criteria of environmental policies, given the very heterogeneous distribution of environmental impacts and the existing margins of maneuver for the distribution of efforts and compensation.

Economic justice is also mobilized in current research on the collective choice criteria to be applied to long-term problems such as climate change. Delicate questions arise, linked on the one hand to the uncertainty of the future and on the other hand to the rights of the absent (future generations).

Like any indirect tax, ecological taxation reduces the purchasing power of consumers and affects a priori growth and employment. It is also regressive, i.e. it penalizes poor consumers relatively more than rich consumers, because polluting goods are often indispensable, such as fuel for transportation or heating. Nevertheless, to be complete, any analysis of the effects of ecological taxation on inequality must also take into account its impacts on the level of employment and unemployment via wage formation.

Fiscal policies related to environmental protection, public debt and sustainable development must be subjected to an examination that takes into account both the macroeconomic effects and the consequences for inequality and poverty, at the national level but also at the global level. At the national level, the modalities for redistributing the revenues from environmental taxes can be determined in order to correct their regressive effects. A targeted redistribution of these tax revenues can provide a double dividend and reduce inequalities induced by environmental policy.

The media and NGOs, lobbyists, and social movements are among the actors whose strategies and motivations merit close analysis because of their influence on public decisions and private behavior. For example, voters often have a confirmation bias when they receive information, i.e. they tend to believe only what validates their preconceived notions, which can have complex consequences on the political decisions of elected officials. Rejection of environmental policies can also be explained by the existence of non-pecuniary motivations (e.g., identity, norms). Socio-cultural processes (socialization, imitation) help explain intergenerational change in environmental values. The integration of these dynamics within long-term macroeconomic models allows us to reassess the cost of the ecological transition and in particular to compare the efficiency of market instruments (e.g., taxes, permits) with that of non-monetary policies such as education.

Policy makers are similarly examined in national and international contexts, including the negotiation of environmental agreements, drawing on our expertise in collective decision making, mechanism design and negotiation processes.