Aitor Marcos Díaz Ekonomialaria

"Who are we to put price on nature?"

2023/07/07 Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

D. Aitor Marcos Díaz Ed. UPV/EHU

Aitor Marcos Díaz has made a winding journey since its beginnings in the study of finance to investigate the ecological economy. He recognizes that at first he was not clear what path to take. He has always liked the economy, politics, anthropology and all the social sciences around him. However, in the conviction that it would be easier for him to find work, he studied the degree in Finance and Insurance. Now the PhD is being made in sustainable consumption.

Along the way, one of the steps was when he went to Germany with the Erasmus scholarship, in the 4th grade, where he got to know the area of Behavioral Economics: "It mixed economic and psychological issues and woke my interest. I already have this field of behavior integrated into my research. Sustainability came later."

Specifically, two years later, working in the USA, after the Master's in Business Law. "This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein: I read the book Capitalism vs the Climate (This changes everything: capitalism vs climate) and was once again interested in individual behavior, but this time in a context of crisis or ecological emergency. In Klein’s book, today’s economies and ecosystems cannot live in the same way. It was 2019, it affected me especially because climate activism took the streets.”

With all these elements, he decided to give a new orientation to his career and to initiate or at least professionally orientate a research that integrates the climate crisis and economic decisions. "The easiest thing for me was to leave the job, go back to the Basque Country and start a PhD here. Now, three years later, what I do is research on economic decisions in the context of the climate emergency, and in particular my thesis examines a couple of political instruments, and my main scientific article is to analyze and demonstrate the effect of taxes on carbon dioxide, because people’s decisions are imperfect, it doesn’t work entirely well.”

And that is that the goal of carbon dioxide tax, which makes highly polluting products and services more expensive, is to encourage people to buy cheaper, and so buy the most sustainable. Marcos, however, has shown that the appearance of the type of menu in the product does not serve to scare buyers, on the contrary, a moral license is awakened to the buyer and tends to buy more.

From neoclassical to ecological economy

Marcos says he is satisfied with the direction he has taken, but would like to go further into the green economy. "You have to keep in mind that the economy has always been very monolithic. And when I came back from America. The university's Department of Economics told me that I wanted to investigate the climate crisis, I got into the realm of environmental economics. But environmental and ecological economics are not the same thing."

It clearly explains the differences between the two: "In the first, the environment and the economy are on par, the social and environmental costs of economic activity are considered from the market point of view. In other words, nature is valued in terms of markets. And who are we to put price on nature? The green economy puts nature above everything and the economy is a subsystem. Its main criticism is that infinite economic growth is unreasonable on a planet with finite material resources.”

Thus, the green economy questions that the main objective of the economy is to maximise gross domestic product. It abandons it and brings the well-being of the planet and of living beings to the center. That's very attractive, more desirable, and it motivates me more, and in my own way, lots of people. When I found it, I didn't know how structured it was, but it's much better worked than I thought. I have known that I am doing the thesis, but I believe that it would be necessary to make known from the university level the models of economy not only neoclassical, but Marxist, feminist, ecological, etc.”.

He realises that the course he has taken is far from his methodologies. And that is, he decides and analyzes personal behaviors, that is, he works with a micro vision, while the ecological economy is very macro. "I don't know to what extent I can investigate a macro issue. But that is my challenge for the future.”

It also sees the risk of diverting attention from systemic problems to comprehensive care in individual behaviors. "If we focus on people, it can be deduced that it's in people's hands to solve the climate crisis, and that's not quite that way. In the end, the consumer makes decisions in a given context and is not able to control structural factors.” Therefore, he believes that when investigating individual behaviors, it is convenient to zoom out from time to time and to look at it with a broader view, without ruling out systemic changes.

Aitor Marcos Díaz
Aitor Marcos Díaz was born in Bermeo. He obtained the degree in Finance and Insurance and the Master in Business Management from the UPV. After two years of innovation consulting work, Patrick Hartmann and José M returned to the UPV/EHU to study PhD in 2020. District under the direction of doctors. Research sustainable consumption issues, integrating behavioural economy, green economy and \a approaches.

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