Affluence, Poverty, and Ecology: Obligation, International Relations, and Sustainable Development

Ethics and the Environment 2 (2):121 - 138 (1997)
Effective efforts to protect the global environment will require the willing cooperation of the world's poor. Persuading them to join international environmental agreements and to choose environmentally sustainable development requires substantial concessions from the affluent industrialized countries, including additional financial assistance and technology transfers. The affluent countries ought to provide such assistance to the world's poor for ethical reasons. Doing so would promote transnational distributive justice, which is defined here as a fair and equitable distribution among countries of benefits, burdens, and decision-making authority, in this case associated with transnational environmental relations. Conceptions of distributive justice examined include utilitarianism, human rights, causality/responsibility, impartiality, and principles derived from Kantian and Rawlsian ethics.
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