Rationing and Climate Change Mitigation

Ethics, Policy and Environment 27 (1):1-29 (2024)
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In this paper, we argue that rationing has been neglected as a policy option for mitigating climate change. There is a broad scientific consensus that avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change requires a rapid reduction in global emissions. We argue that rationing could help states reduce emissions rapidly and fairly. Our arguments in this paper draw on economic analysis and historical research into rationing in the UK during (and after) the two world wars, highlighting success stories and correcting misconceptions. However, although the empirical details play an important role, the paper is primarily based on philosophical and ethical argument and policy analysis, particularly highlighting the normative assumptions behind policy choices.We build on Hugh Upton’s work in healthcare ethics, rejecting a broader conception of rationing which conceals significant distinctions between policy options, obscuring the specific advantages of an egalitarian conception of rationing. While some argue for the modernisation of rationing, introducing tradable allowances, we argue that the rejection of markets, and a commitment to fair shares, is a key part of the value of rationing, and precisely what made rationing attractive to the public in the 1940s.



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Author Profiles

Rob Lawlor
University of Leeds
Nathan Wood
University of Texas Health Center at Tyler

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References found in this work

Debating Climate Ethics.Stephen Mark Gardiner & David A. Weisbach - 2016 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.
Is More Choice Better than Less?Gerald Dworkin - 1982 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 7 (1):47-61.
Scientists Reach 100% Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming.James Powell - 2017 - Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 37 (4):183-184.
The art of choosing.Sheena Iyengar - 2010 - New York: Twelve.

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