Moral Dimensions of Offsetting Luxury Emissions

Ethics, Policy and Environment 25 (3):297-315 (2022)
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Abstract

This essay addresses moral aspects of using carbon offsets for counteracting individuals’ luxury emissions. After introducing and outlining the main topics and terms related to carbon offsetting, this essay answers three objections that have been levied against carbon offsetting: objections from the indulgences analogy, objections from the directness of the duty not to harm, and separateness objections. The essay argues that advocates for offsetting have resources to defend against these criticisms by pointing to particularities of individual emissions’ harmfulness, as well as the preemptive nature of offsetting. The essay then shows that in spite of these defenses there is reason to regard not emitting as a better option because of a host of problems that plague offsetting in its current forms. The essay concludes that offsetting enhances individuals’ options for discharging their duty not to harm, but that standards of justice and efficacy need to be adopted.

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Stearns Broadhead
University Vita-Salute San Raffaele

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