Ethics and International Affairs 26 (4):423-443 (2012)

Jonathan Pickering
University of Canberra
At the United Nations climate change conference in 2011, parties decided to launch the “Durban Platform” to work towards a new long-term climate agreement. The decision was notable for the absence of any reference to “equity”, a prominent principle in all previous major climate agreements. Wealthy countries resisted the inclusion of equity on the grounds that the term had become too closely yoked to developing countries’ favored conception of equity. This conception, according to wealthy countries, exempts developing countries from making commitments that are stringent enough for the collective effort needed to avoid dangerous climate change. In circumstances where even mentioning the term equity has become problematic, a critical question is whether scope for a fair agreement is being squeezed out of negotiations. To address this question we set out a conceptual framework for normative theorizing about fairness in international negotiations, accompanied by a set of minimal standards of fairness and plausible feasibility constraints for sharing the global climate change mitigation effort. We argue that a fair and feasible agreement may be reached by (i) reforming the current binary approach to differentiating developed and developing country groups, in tandem with (ii) introducing a more principled approach to differentiating the mitigation commitments of individual countries. These two priorities may provide the basis for a principled bargain between developed and developing countries that safeguards the opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change without sacrificing widely acceptable conceptions of equity.
Keywords Climate ethics  Feasibility  Political philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/s0892679412000603
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Climate Change and the Duties of the Advantaged.Simon Caney - 2010 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (1):203-228.
Climate Change Justice.Eric A. Posner & David Weisbach - 2010 - Princeton University Press.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Implementing Climate Equity: The Case of Europe.Paul G. Harris - 2008 - Journal of Global Ethics 4 (2):121 – 140.
On the Concept of Climate Debt: Its Moral and Political Value.Jonathan Pickering & Christian Barry - 2012 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (5):667-685.
Global Justice and Global Climate Change: A Discussion of the Relationship.Duane Windsor - 2009 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 20:23-34.
Individual Responsibility for Climate Change.Melany Banks - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (1):42-66.
The Ethics of Burden-Sharing in the Global Greenhouse. E. Wesley & F. Peterson - 1999 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 11 (3):167-196.


Added to PP index

Total views
823 ( #8,538 of 2,508,076 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
38 ( #22,987 of 2,508,076 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes