About this topic
Summary Climate change threatens to create serious risks, ranging from economic risks to increased risk of death and disease to the complete annihilation of small island states. The field of climate ethics (also known as "climate justice") includes questions about how global society should respond to the creation of such risks and who, exactly, should take responsibility for which parts of that response. Major issues include: How aggressively should society reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? How should the burden of achieving those reductions be distributed across and within nations? What role should adaptation play in responding to climate change? Should high emitters pay damages to affected parties? What responsibilities, if any, does climate change impose on individuals? Because climate change is unfolding on a global scale over long periods of time, and because it involves complex issues of politics, science, economics, and technology, answering these questions requires drawing on moral and political philosophy, philosophy of science and epistemology, philosophy of economics, and philosophy of technology, along with a range of other disciplines.
Key works The seminal review of climate ethics is still Gardiner 2004. For collections of key papers on various aspects of climate ethics, see Gardiner et al 2010, which compiles important papers from the first two decades of the field; Arnold 2011, which includes new papers on important issues in climate ethics; and Shue 2014, which collects major papers from one of the most important voices in climate ethics. Important monographs in climate ethics include Gardiner 2011, in which Gardiner delves more deeply into the structure of the moral problems raised by climate change; Broome 2012 and Moellendorf 2014, in which Broome and Moellendorf articulate their respective answers to key questions in climate ethics; and Vanderheiden 2008, in which Vanderheiden addresses issues of climate justice from the perspective of political theory. On the question of individual responsibility for climate change, see Sinnott-Armstrong 2005 (reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010); Hiller 2011, a reply to Sinnott-Armstrong; and for a different approach, Jamieson 2007 (also reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010).
Introductions Chapter 2 of Singer 2002 includes a highly accessible introduction to some key moral issues raised by climate change, suitable for beginning undergraduates. More advanced undergraduates might start with Hayward 2012. Graduate students and professionals looking for a concise survey of climate ethics should consider  Moellendorf 2015. Those looking for more detail, including relevant scientific and economic background, will find it in Gardiner 2004Broome 2012 provides an accessible book-length overview many key issues in climate ethics, along with a primer on climate science and climate economics. For an overview of the literature on climate change and individual responsibilities, see Fragnière 2016.
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  1. A Primer on Global Climate Change and its Likely Impacts.John Abatzoglou, Joseph Fc Dimento, Pamela Doughman & Stefano Nespor - 2007 - In Joseph F. DiMento & Pamela Doughman (eds.), Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. MIT Press.
  2. Climate-Change Effects: Global and Local Views.John Abatzoglou, Joseph Fc Dimento, Pamela Doughman & Stefano Nespor - 2007 - In Joseph F. DiMento & Pamela Doughman (eds.), Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. MIT Press.
  3. EL CAMBIO CLIMÁTICO. ESTADO GENERAL DE LA CUESTIÓN Y ANÁLISIS CRÍTICO.Miguel Acosta - 2010 - In M. C. Azaustre Serrano (ed.), Diálogos educativos con el mundo contemporáneo. Educación y Medio Ambiente. Sevilla, Spain: Fondo Editorial Fundación San Pablo Andalucía (CEU). pp. 93-149.
  4. Taking Property Rights Seriously: The Case of Climate Change.Jonathan H. Adler - 2009 - Social Philosophy and Policy 26 (2):296-316.
    The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called (FME), is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources. Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described FME advocates adopt a utilitarian, welfare-maximization approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic, human-induced climate change is likely to contribute (...)
  5. Design Fundamentals in the Hot and Humid Climate of Iran: The Case of Khoramshahr.Hoda Afshari - 2012 - Asian Culture and History 4 (1):p65.
    Building design based on principles of architecture in harmony with the climate of each region, in addition to creating thermal comfort in building interiors, reduces fuel consumption and more important it will demonstrate a clean and green environment. This issue becomes more intense in some geological areas like Khoramshahr in Iran, which has a warm, tropical and critical climate, since if this issue is not taking into account, using air conditioning utilities would be necessary in most periods of the year. (...)
  6. Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker, Eds. Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis.Julia Agapitos - 2010 - Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):286-288.
    Gaia in Turmoil is the latest collaborative work put forth by the interdisciplinary group of Gaian thinkers. The contributors set out to meaningfully grapple with the bewildering ecological and social crises that humanity faces in this young century. Their work clearly rests on the assumption that such crises not only exist, but are dire—a conviction that unifies the essays in Gaia in Turmoil. By demonstrating how Gaia theory can advance various research projects, Gaia in Turmoil is an alarmist plea to (...)
  7. The Ethics of Assisted Colonization in the Age of Anthropogenic Climate Change.G. A. Albrecht, C. Brooke, D. H. Bennett & S. T. Garnett - 2013 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 26 (4):827-845.
    This paper examines an issue that is becoming increasingly relevant as the pressures of a warming planet, changing climate and changing ecosystems ramp up. The broad context for the paper is the intragenerational, intergenerational, and interspecies equity implications of changing the climate and the value orientations of adapting to such change. In addition, the need to stabilize the planetary climate by urgent mitigation of change factors is a foundational ethical assumption. In order to avoid further animal and plant extinctions, or (...)
  8. GCI 3: Substantial Change and the Problem of Not-Being.Keimpe Algra - 2004 - In Frans de Haas & Jaap Mansfeld (eds.), Aristotle's on Generation and Corruption I Book 1: Symposium Aristotelicum. Clarendon Press.
  9. Climate Change, Epistemic Trust, and Expert Trustworthiness. Almassi - 2012 - Ethics and the Environment 17 (2):29-49.
    The evidence most of us have for our beliefs on global climate change, the extent of human contribution to it, and appropriate anticipatory and mitigating actions turns crucially on epistemic trust. We extend trust or distrust to many varied others: scientists performing original research, intergovernmental agencies and those reviewing research, think tanks offering critique and advocating skepticism, journalists transmitting and interpreting claims, even social systems of modern science such as peer-reviewed publication and grant allocation. Our personal experiences and assessments of (...)
  10. Experts in the Climate Change Debate.Ben Almassi - 2016 - In David Coady, Kimberley Brownlee & Kasper Lipper-Rasmussen (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Applied Philosophy. Blackwell.
  11. Climate Change and the Ethics of Individual Emissions.Ben Almassi - 2012 - Perspectives 4 (1):4-21.
    Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues, on the relationship between individual emissions and climate change, that “we cannot claim to know that it is morally wrong to drive a gas guzzler just for fun” or engage in other inessential emissions-producing individual activities. His concern is not uncertainty about the phenomenon of climate change, nor about human contribution to it. Rather, on Sinnott-Armstrong’s analysis the claim of individual moral responsibility for emissions must be grounded in a defensible moral principle, yet no principle withstands scrutiny. (...)
  12. Does Climatic Crisis in Australia's Food Bowl Create a Basis for Change in Agricultural Gender Relations?Margaret Alston & Kerri Whittenbury - 2013 - Agriculture and Human Values 30 (1):115-128.
    An ongoing crisis in Australian agriculture resulting from climate crises including drought, decreasing irrigation water, more recent catastrophic flooding, and an uncertain policy environment is reshaping gender relations in the intimate sphere of the farm family. Drawing on research conducted in the Murray-Darling Basin area of Australia we ask the question: Does extreme hardship/climate crises change highly inequitable gender relations in agriculture? As farm income declines, Australian farm women are more likely to be working off farm for critical family income (...)
  13. Global Warming.Mahesh Ananth - 2010 - In Roger Chapman (ed.), Culture Wars. New York, USA: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 218-220.
    Overview of the global warming/climate change debate.
  14. Climate Change and the Convergence Between ENGOs and Business: On the Loss of Utopian Energies.Jonas Anshelm & Anders Hansson - 2011 - Environmental Values 20 (1):75-94.
    The conflicts permeating the environmental debate since the 1960s have mainly involved two actors: multinational companies and international environmental organizations. Today, there are signs that the antagonism is ending with regards to co-operation and strategy. We argue that this convergence is no longer limited to specific joint projects, but is also prevalent at the idea and policy levels. Both actors have begun describing problems in similar terms, articulating the same goals and recommending the same solutions. Such convergence offers advantages in (...)
  15. Introduction. Anthony - 2012 - Ethics and the Environment 17 (2):1-8.
    In 2012, the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean melted to 4.10 million square kilometers, the smallest level to date. 2012 has also been marked by extreme weather, intense storms, drought, heat waves, warming oceans and intense precipitation events in many regions of the world. While climate scientists consider the relationship between climate change and large storms like Hurricane Sandy or the 2010 drought in Russia, many still continue to hum and haw over the extent to which human-induced climate change (...)
  16. Taming the Unruly Side of Ethics: Overcoming Challenges of a Bottom-Up Approach to Ethics in the Areas of Food Policy and Climate Change. [REVIEW]Raymond Anthony - 2012 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 25 (6):813-841.
    Here, I investigate the challenges involved in addressing ethical questions related to food policy, food security, and climate change in a public engagement atmosphere where “experts” (e.g., scientists and scholars), policy-makers and laypersons interact. My focus is on the intersection between food and climate in the state of Alaska, located in the circumpolar north. The intersection of food security and climate represents a “wicked problem.” This wicked problem is plagued by “unruliness,” characterized by disruptive mechanisms that can impede how ethical (...)
  17. The Catachronism of Climate Change.Srinivas Aravamudan - 2013 - Diacritics 41 (3):6-30.
  18. Solar Energy-a Vedic Approach.K. B. Archak - 2006 - In V. N. Jha, Manabendu Banerjee & Ujjwala Panse (eds.), Nyāya-Vasiṣṭha: Felicitation Volume of Prof. Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar. pp. 68.
  19. Global Partnership, Climate Change and Complex Equality.F. Arler - 2001 - Environmental Values 10 (3):301-329.
    The prospect of climate change due to human activities has put the question of inter- and intragenerational justice or equity in matters of common concern on the global agenda. This article will focus on the question of intragenerational justice in relation to these issues. This involves three basic questions. Firstly, the question of which distributive criteria may be relevant in the distribution of the goods and bads related to the increasing greenhouse effect. A series of criteria are discussed in relation (...)
  20. Philip Cafaro and Eileen Crist, Editors. Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation. [REVIEW]Darrell P. Arnold - 2013 - Environmental Philosophy 10 (2):113-116.
  21. Corporate Responsibility, Democracy, and Climate Change.Denis G. Arnold - 2016 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 40 (1):252-261.
  22. Ethics of Global Climate Change.Denis G. Arnold (ed.) - 2011 - Cambridge University Press.
    Global climate change is one of the most daunting ethical and political challenges confronting humanity in the twenty-first century. The intergenerational and transnational ethical issues raised by climate change have been the focus of a significant body of scholarship. In this new collection of essays, leading scholars engage and respond to first-generation scholarship and argue for new ways of thinking about our ethical obligations to present and future generations. Topics addressed in these essays include moral accountability for energy consumption and (...)
  23. The Ethics of Global Climate Change.Denis G. Arnold (ed.) - 2011 - Cambridge University Press.
    Global climate change is one of the most daunting ethical and political challenges confronting humanity in the twenty-first century. The intergenerational and transnational ethical issues raised by climate change have been the focus of a significant body of scholarship. In this new collection of essays, leading scholars engage and respond to first-generation scholarship and argue for new ways of thinking about our ethical obligations to present and future generations. Topics addressed in these essays include moral accountability for energy consumption and (...)
  24. Business, Ethics, and Global Climate Change.Denis G. Arnold & Keith Bustos - 2005 - Business and Professional Ethics Journal 24 (1):103-130.
    After providing a brief history of global climate change, we consider and reject the influential position that free markets and responsive democracies relieve corporations of obligations to protect the environment. Five main objections to the free market view are presented, focusing in particular on the roles of business organizations in the transportation and electricity generation sectors. Ethically grounded management and public policy recommendations are offered.
  25. Climate Change: Making Us Brothers and Sisters.Andrew Askland - 2014 - Journal of Global Ethics 10 (3):292-296.
    The constraint for prevailing ethical orientations is the unavoidable concern each person has for her own welfare. Climate change can transform the fundamental structure of these ethical orientations because it compels the recognition that the behaviors of those at the far reaches of my concentric circle model have real and potentially disastrous effects upon me. The tangible prospect of climate change will inspire the recognition of our common destiny.
  26. Henry Odera Oruka, Ecophilosophy and Climate Change.R. Attfield - 2012 - Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya 4 (2):51-74.
    The purpose of this paper is to explore what Henry Odera Oruka, a renowned ecophilosopher and Director designate of an Ecophilosophy Centre, would have thought and argued in the sphere of climate change if he had remained alive beyond 1995 and up to the present time.The methodology of the paper combines an analytic and normative study of ethical issues concerning climate change that arose during the 1990s or have arisen during the subsequent period, with a critical examination of relevant international (...)
  27. Global Warming, Equity and Future Generations.Robin Attfield - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 23:5-11.
    The phenomenon of global warming, the anthropogenic theory of its genesis and some of the implications of that theory are introduced as a case-study of a global environmental problem involving issues of equity between peoples, generations and species. We should favour the proportioning of emission quotas topopulation, if the charges of anthropocentrism and of discrimination against future generations can be avoided. It is argued that these charges can be replied to satisfactorily, if emissions totals are set low enough for the (...)
  28. Global Warming, Justice and Future Generations.Robin Attfield - 2003 - Philosophy of Management 3 (1):17-23.
    The phenomenon of global warming, the anthropogenic theory of its genesis and some of the implications of that theory are introduced as a case-study of a global environmental problem involving issues of equity between peoples, generations and species. In particular, recognition of the view that the absorptive capacities of the atmosphere comprise an instance of the Common Heritage of Humankind would have a key bearing on negotiations downstream from the Kyoto Protocol, suggesting the proportioning of emission quotas to population, and (...)
  29. Responding to Charges of Climate Hype.Auch Adam - unknown
    I consider hype as it relates to discourse surrounding climate change. The presence of hype about a subject can make it difficult to judge what and whom one should believe. This may lead to concerns about climate change to be unfairly dismissed. For this reason, I argue that advocating for climate change mitigation efforts requires not only reiterating the soundness of the underlying science, but also understanding the social and psychological phenomena that produce the confusion.
  30. Rethinking “Greening of Hate”: Climate Emissions, Immigration, and the Last Frontier. Aufrecht - 2012 - Ethics and the Environment 17 (2):51-74.
  31. Climate Change and Structural Emissions.Monica Aufrecht - 2011 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):201-213.
    Given that mitigating climate change is a large-scale global issue, what obligations do individuals have to lower their personal carbon emissions? I survey recent suggestions by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Dale Jamieson and offer models for thinking about their respective approaches. I then present a third model based on the notion of structural violence. While the three models are not mutually incompatible, each one suggests a different focus for mitigating climate change. In the end, I agree with Sinnott-Armstrong that people have (...)
  32. The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity. [REVIEW]George J. Aulisio - 2017 - The European Legacy 22 (7-8):865-867.
  33. Cautiously Utopian Goals : Philosophical Analyses of Climate Change Objectives and Sustainability Targets.Patrik Baard - 2016 - Dissertation, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
    In this thesis, the framework within which long-term goals are set and subsequently achieved or approached is analyzed. Sustainable development and climate change are areas in which goals have tobe set despite uncertainties. The analysis is divided into the normative motivations for setting such goals, what forms of goals could be set given the empirical and normative uncertainties, and how tomanage doubts regarding achievability or values after a goal has been set. Paper I discusses a set of questions that moral (...)
  34. Adaptive Ideals and Aspirational Goals: The Utopian Ideals and Realist Constraints of Climate Change Adaptation.Patrik Baard - 2015 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (4):739-757.
    There is a growing need to implement anticipatory climate change adaptation measures, particularly in vulnerable sectors, such as in agriculture. However, setting goals to adapt is wrought with several challenges. This paper discusses two sets of challenges to goals of anticipatory adaptation, of empirical and normative character. The first set of challenges concern issues such as the extent to which the climate will change, the local impacts of such changes, and available adaptive responses. In the second set of uncertainties are (...)
  35. Cautious Utopias: Environmental Goal-Setting with Long Time Frames.Patrik Baard & Karin Edvardsson Björnberg - 2015 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 18 (2):187-201.
    Sustainable development is a common goal in the public sector but may be difficult to implement due to epistemic uncertainties and the long time frames required. This paper proposes that some of these problems can be solved by formulating cautious utopias, entailing a relationship between means and goals differing from both utopian and realistic goal-setting. Cautiously utopian goals are believed, but not certain, to be achievable and to remain desirable, but are open to future adjustments due to changing desires and/or (...)
  36. Reply to My Critics: Justifying the Fair Share Argument.Christian Baatz - 2016 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 19 (2):160-169.
    In an earlier article I argued that individuals are obligated not to exceed their fair share of emissions entitlements, that many exceed their fair share at present and thus ought to reduce their emissions as far as can reasonably be demanded. The peer commentators raised various insightful and pressing concerns, but the following objections seem particularly important: It was argued that the fair share argument is insufficiently justified, that it is incoherent, that it would result in more far-reaching duties than (...)
  37. Can We Have It Both Ways? On Potential Trade-Offs Between Mitigation and Solar Radiation Management.Christian Baatz - 2016 - Environmental Values 25 (1):29-49.
  38. Climate Change and Individual Duties to Reduce GHG Emissions.Christian Baatz - 2014 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (1):1-19.
  39. Responsibility for the Past? Some Thoughts on Compensating Those Vulnerable to Climate Change in Developing Countries.Christian Baatz - 2013 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 16 (1):94-110.
    The first impacts of climate change have become evident and are expected to increase dramatically over the next decades. Thus, it becomes more and more pressing to decide who has to compensate those people who suffer from negative impacts of climate change but have neither contributed to the problem nor possess the resources to cope with the consequences. Since the frequently invoked Polluter Pays Principle cannot account for all climate-related harm, I will take a closer look at the much more (...)
  40. The Ethics of Engineering the Climate.Christian Baatz, Clare Heyward & Harald Stelzer - 2016 - Environmental Values 25 (1):1-5.
  41. Turning the Corner in Lima: The Language of Differentiation and the ‘Democratization’ of Climate Change Negotiations.Tracy Bach & Rebecca Davidson - 2015 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 18 (2):170-187.
    The ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ decision marked the conclusion of the 20th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It expresses how the 196 UNFCCC Parties intend to negotiate the elements of a new agreement to be opened for signature in Paris at COP21. This ‘Paris Agreement’ would govern Parties starting in 2020, when the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period ends. The new agreement would also move Parties beyond the Kyoto Protocol's (...)
  42. The Situation of the Most Vulnerable Countries After Copenhagen.Paul Baer - 2010 - Ethics, Place and Environment 13 (2):223-228.
  43. Greenhouse Development Rights: A Proposal for a Fair Global Climate Treaty.Paul Baer, Tom Athanasiou, Sivan Kartha & Eric Kemp-Benedict - 2009 - Ethics, Place and Environment 12 (3):267-281.
    One of the core debates concerning equity in the response to the threat of anthropogenic climate change is how the responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be allocated, or, correspondingly, how the right to emit greenhouse gases should be allocated. Two alternative approaches that have been widely promoted are, first, to assign obligations to the industrialized countries on the basis of both their ability to pay and their responsibility for the majority of prior emissions, or, second, to assign emissions (...)
  44. Dendrochronology and Past Environmental Change.M. G. L. Baillie - 1992 - In New Developments in Archaeological Science. pp. 5-23.
  45. Environmental Citizenship and Climate Security.Andrew Baldwin & Judy Meltzer - 2012 - In Alex Latta & Hannah Wittman (eds.), Environment and Citizenship in Latin America: Natures, Subjects and Struggles. Berghahn Books. pp. 101--23.
  46. Understanding Sustainable Architecture: Terry Williamson, Antony Radford and Helen Bennetts. Spon Press, 2003. [REVIEW]Greg Bamford - 2005 - Architecture Australia 94 (5):50.
  47. The Role of Short-Termism and Uncertainty Avoidance in Organizational Inaction on Climate Change: A Multi-Level Framework.Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee, Timo Busch, Jonatan Pinkse & Natalie Slawinski - 2017 - Business and Society 56 (2):253-282.
    Despite increasing pressure to deal with climate change, firms have been slow to respond with effective action. This article presents a multi-level framework for a better understanding of why many firms are failing to reduce their absolute greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. The concepts of short-termism and uncertainty avoidance from research in psychology, sociology, and organization theory can explain the phenomenon of organizational inaction on climate change. Antecedents related to short-termism and uncertainty avoidance reinforce one another at (...)
  48. Individual Responsibility for Climate Change.Melany Banks - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (1):42-66.
    As we become more aware of the potential causes and consequences of climate change we are left wondering: who is responsible? Climate change has the potential to harm large portions of the global population and, arguably, is already doing so. Further, climate change is argued to be human-caused. If this is true, then it seems to be the case that we can analyze climate change in terms of responsibility. I argue that we can approach environmental harms, such as climate change, (...)
  49. Human Engineering: Helpful or Unnecessary?Melany Banks - 2012 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 15 (2):227 - 229.
    Ethics, Policy & Environment, Volume 15, Issue 2, Page 227-229, June 2012.
  50. The Causal Mosaic of the Organic World.Lorenzo Baravalle - 2015 - Scientiae Studia 13 (3):685-694.
    RESUMOA climatologia está no centro de um dos debates mais polarizados da atualidade, apresentado como confronto entre os defensores da existência de um aquecimento global antropogênico e aqueles que rejeitam sua existência. A instituição chave para esse tema é o Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudanças Climáticas, um corpo simultaneamente científico e político. O debate surge aí mesclado com a discussão política sobre as respostas adequadas ao aquecimento global. Mas, rechaçados nesse terreno, os negacionistas transpõem o debate para a mídia, onde mobilizam (...)
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