Intergenerational Fairness and Climate Change Adaptation Policy: An Economic Analysis


  • Gunter Stephan Department of Economics and Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland



climate change adaptation, policy, intergenerational fairness and equity


Compared to existing needs, climate change adaptation policies are significantly deficient. Since many adaptation measures have
the feature of a local public good, and since benefits accrue to later generations mainly, most environmental economists would argue that the public goods issue is the most plausible reason why incentives are often insufficient for achieving the optimal level of adaptation. Within a stylized overlapping generation model, we show that adaptation is subject to severe intergenerational consistency problems, if pure self-interest is a feature of the generation’s behavior. This explains among others why too little is invested into climate change adaptation. We also show that if the distribution of income between generations matters or if generations behave altruistic, this consistency conflict can be solved and offers possibilities for policy intervention.


Received: 17 January 2023 | Revised: 27 February 2023 | Accepted: 28 February 2023 


Conflicts of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflicts of interest to this work.




How to Cite

Stephan, G. (2023). Intergenerational Fairness and Climate Change Adaptation Policy: An Economic Analysis. Green and Low-Carbon Economy, 1(3), 105–109.



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