For informing future energy policy decisions, it is essential to choose the correct social discount rate (SDR) for ex-ante economic evaluations. Generally, costs and benefits—both economic and environmental—are weighted through a single constant discount rate. This leads to excessive discounting of the present value of cash flows progressively more distant over time. Evaluating energy projects through constant discount rates would mean underestimating their environmental externalities. This study intends to characterize environmental–economic discounting models cali-brated for energy investments, distinguishing between intra-and inter-generational projects. In both cases, the idea is to use two discounting rates: an economic rate to assess financial components and an ecological rate to weight environmental effects. For intra-generational projects, the dual discount rates are assumed to be constant over time. For inter-generational projects, the model is time-declining to give greater weight to environmental damages and benefits in the long-term. Our discounting approaches are based on Ramsey’s growth model and Gollier’s ecological discounting model; the latter is expressed as a function of an index capable of describing the performance of a country’s energy systems. With regards to the models we propose, the novelty lies in the calibration of the “environmental quality” parameter. Regarding the model for long-term projects, another innovation concerns the analysis of risk components linked to economic variables; the growth rate of consumption is modelled as a stochastic variable. The defined models were implemented to deter-mine discount rates for both Italy and China. In both cases, the estimated discount rates are lower than those suggested by governments. This means that the use of dual discounting approaches can guide policymakers towards sustainable investment in line with UN climate neutrality objectives.

The role of discounting in energy policy investments

Maselli G.;Nestico' A.
2021-01-01

Abstract

For informing future energy policy decisions, it is essential to choose the correct social discount rate (SDR) for ex-ante economic evaluations. Generally, costs and benefits—both economic and environmental—are weighted through a single constant discount rate. This leads to excessive discounting of the present value of cash flows progressively more distant over time. Evaluating energy projects through constant discount rates would mean underestimating their environmental externalities. This study intends to characterize environmental–economic discounting models cali-brated for energy investments, distinguishing between intra-and inter-generational projects. In both cases, the idea is to use two discounting rates: an economic rate to assess financial components and an ecological rate to weight environmental effects. For intra-generational projects, the dual discount rates are assumed to be constant over time. For inter-generational projects, the model is time-declining to give greater weight to environmental damages and benefits in the long-term. Our discounting approaches are based on Ramsey’s growth model and Gollier’s ecological discounting model; the latter is expressed as a function of an index capable of describing the performance of a country’s energy systems. With regards to the models we propose, the novelty lies in the calibration of the “environmental quality” parameter. Regarding the model for long-term projects, another innovation concerns the analysis of risk components linked to economic variables; the growth rate of consumption is modelled as a stochastic variable. The defined models were implemented to deter-mine discount rates for both Italy and China. In both cases, the estimated discount rates are lower than those suggested by governments. This means that the use of dual discounting approaches can guide policymakers towards sustainable investment in line with UN climate neutrality objectives.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4782632
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