Abstract: The issue of discounting environmental projects is a contentious one, with individuals from different fields holding very strong, and often opposing opinions about the matter. Even within the field of economics there is a lack of consensus on what is an appropriate discount rate, with a number of prominent economists believing that environmental projects should not be treated any different from private investment projects when it comes to discounting. Using an innovative experimental methodology developed by the present author, this study pilots an approach which shows that the intertemporal preferences of individuals vary not only between private and environmental projects but, equally importantly, between different groups of people. These findings reinforce the need to use a specific discount rate for assessing environmental projects which is properly representative of heterogeneities in social preferences in this regard.

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