https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_SA23mlXNY&spfreload=10 [accessed 18/12/14]
An interesting idea currently being research by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) is structuring economic policy by well-being rather than GDP. They note that despite the rise in UK GDP since the mid 20th century life satisfaction doesn’t change, with other studies suggesting that beyond a certain monetary threshold happiness doesn’t improve (Boyce et al 2010). In a recent talk at the institute of global prosperity Charles Seaford, head of Wellbeing at NEF, suggested that introducing well-being into policy decisions allows for a more integrated process and targets ‘better growth’. Improving aspects such as job security, inequality, housing provision etc. It’s important to stress this isn’t a subjective analysis, rigorous work such as the happiness index produces quantitative data on life satisfaction. This means you can look at things such as zero-hours contracts and say, actually this is negatively affecting lives by a quantifiable amount (in this case it was 0.52 on a scale of 1-5).
Looking a climate change through a well-being lens could provide excellent benefits. Introducing a carbon tax may reduce the GDP of certain countries and individuals but would bring secure jobs in a new ‘green’ economy and massively reduce health and social problems. The key benefit however would be inequality reduction. We know that climate change disproportionately impacts the poor, both nationally and internationally, which is especially poignant given the poor produce the smallest emissions, reorienting policy decisions by assessing wellbeing could help then adjust the cost-benefit analysis into one that is more likely to inspire action.