Journal of Global Ethics 4 (2):121 – 140 (2008)
For over two decades, international environmental equity - the fair and just sharing of the burdens associated with environmental changes - has been the subject of much debate by philosophers, activists and diplomats concerned about climate change. It has been manifested in many international environmental agreements, notably the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. The question arises as to whether it is being put into practice in this context. Are the requirements of international environmental equity merely words and principles in international instruments, or are they having a practical effect on the policies of state governments? This article aims to start answering these questions. It examines whether the European Union (EU) and its member states are sharing the burdens of climate change. The article introduces equity in the context of the climate change agreements and looks at some normative and practical considerations. It suggests that Europe has been a leader on international equity in the climate change negotiations over the last decade, and it points to what European states and the EU have done to take on some of the burdens of climate change. Europe's actions are briefly assessed from practical and normative perspectives. Europe is doing more than any other part of the world to address climate change and to share the burdens associated with it. Nevertheless, Europe is not doing as much to address this problem as it can and should do. Both practical and normative imperatives demand more urgent action by Europe to implement climate equity
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