This paper examines what agents should do when others fail to comply with their responsibilities to prevent dangerous climate change. It distinguishes between six different possible responses to noncompliance. These include what I term (1) 'target modification' (watering down the extent to which we seek to prevent climate change), (2) ‘responsibility reallocation’ (reassigning responsibilities to other duty bearers), (3) ‘burden shifting I’ (allowing duty bearers to implement policies which impose unjust burdens on others, (4) 'burden shifting II’ (allowing some to (...) protect peoples rights in ways which impose otherwise unjustified burdens on the duty bearers, (5) 'compromising moral ideals' (permitting agents to compromise non-justice ideals that they are otherwise bound by); and (6) ‘promoting compliance (implementing policies and creating institutions which reduce noncompliance). It concludes by outlining a methodological framework for evaluating these options, and by setting out my tentative and provisional evaluation of which responses are the least bad. (shrink)
Which political principles should govern global politics? In his new book, Simon Caney engages with the work of philosophers, political theorists, and international relations scholars in order to examine some of the most pressing global issues of our time. Are there universal civil, political, and economic human rights? Should there be a system of supra- state institutions? Can humanitarian intervention be justified?
Climate change poses grave threats to many people, including the most vulnerable. This prompts the question of who should bear the burden of combating ?dangerous? climate change. Many appeal to the Polluter Pays Principle. I argue that it should play an important role in any adequate analysis of the responsibility to combat climate change, but suggest that it suffers from three limitations and that it needs to be revised. I then consider the Ability to Pay Principle and consider four objections (...) to this principle. I suggest that, when suitably modified, it can supplement the Polluter Pays Principle. (shrink)
This paper examines what would be a fair distribution of the right to emit greenhouse gases. It distinguishes between views that treat the distribution of this right on its own (Isolationist Views) and those that treat it in conjunction with the distribution of other goods (Integrationist Views). The most widely held view treats adopts an Isolationist approach and holds that emission rights should be distributed equally. This paper provides a critique of this 'equal per capita' view, and the isolationist assumptions (...) on which it depends. It examines four arguments for this view, finding each wanting. It then presents two general challenges to the 'equal per capita' view, and, indeed, any views which treat the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions in isolation from other goods. It concludes by outlining and defending an alternative (Integrationist) approach to the distribution of rights to emit greenhouse gases. (shrink)
Imagine that you are a farmer living in Kenya. Though you work hard to sell your produce to foreign markets you find yourself unable to do so because affluent countries subsidize their own farmers and erect barriers to trade, like tariffs, thereby undercutting you in the marketplace. As a consequence of their actions you languish in poverty despite your very best efforts. Or, imagine that you are a peasant whose livelihood depends on working in the fields in Indonesia and you (...) are forcibly displaced from your land by a biofuels company because corrupt government officials have stolen the land and sold it to the company. Or, suppose that you work on the coast of Bangladesh but find that increasingly you are unable to cope with salination resulting from sealevel rise – a product of anthropogenic climate change. These, I believe, are cases of global injustice. My question is: What are those who bear the brunt of global injustice entitled to do to secure their, and other people’s, entitlements? Often people focus on the duties of the affluent to respect and uphold the rights of the disadvantaged. This is understandable. But there is a striking omission. Rarely do people analyze, or even mention, what those who lack their entitlements are entitled to do to secure their own rights. This is my focus in this paper. More specifically, I examine what agents are entitled to do to change the underlying social, economic and political practices and structures in a more just direction. (shrink)
This paper defends an egalitarian conception of global justice against two kinds of criticism. Many who defend egalitarian principles of justice do so on the basis that all humans are part of a common 'association' of some kind. In this paper I defend the humanity-centred approach which holds that persons should be included within the scope of distributive justice simply because they are fellow human beings. The paper has four substantive sections - the first addresses Andrea Sangiovanni's reciprocity-based argument for (...) the claim that egalitarian principles apply only within the state. The second responds to Michael Blake's coercion-based argument for the thesis that egalitarian principles apply only within the state. A third section draws attention to a general problem with associational accounts of distributive justice. Finally, I seek to show how a humanity-centred cosmopolitanism can accommodate the insights associated with an associational approach. (shrink)
It is widely recognized that changes are occurring to the earth’s climate and, further, that these changes threaten important human interests. This raises the question of who should bear the burdens of addressing global climate change. This paper aims to provide an answer to this question. To do so it focuses on the principle that those who cause the problem are morally responsible for solving it (the ‘polluterpays’ principle). It argues thatwhilethishasconsiderable appeal it cannot provide a complete account of who (...) should bear the burdens of global climate change. It proposes three ways in which this principle needs to be supplemented, and compares the resulting moral theory with the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’. (shrink)
This paper examines explore the issues of intergenerational equity raised by climate change. A number of different reasons have been suggested as to why current generations may legitimately favor devoting resources to contemporaries rather than to future generations. These - either individually or jointly - challenge the case for combating climate change. In this paper, I distinguish between three different kinds of reason for favoring contemporaries. I argue that none of these arguments is persuasive. My answer in each case appeals (...) to the concept of human rights. It maintains that a human rights-centered perspective to climate change enables us to address each of these reasons. (shrink)
The prospect of dangerous climate change requires Humanity to limit the emission of greenhouse gases. This in turn raises the question of how the permission to emit greenhouse gases should be distributed and among whom. In this article the author criticises three principles of distributive justice that have often been advanced in this context. He also argues that the predominantly statist way in which the question is framed occludes some morally relevant considerations. The latter part of the article turns from (...) critique and advances a new way of addressing the problem. In particular, first, it proposes four key theses that should guide our normative analysis; and, second, it outlines how these four theses can be realised in practice. (shrink)
This paper discusses two distinct questions of distributive justice raised by climate change. Stated very roughly, one question concerns how much protection is owed to the potential victims of climate change (the Just Target Question), and the second concerns how the burdens (and benefits) involved in preventing dangerous climate change should be distributed (the Just Burden Question). In Section II, I focus on the first of these questions, the Just Target Question. The rest of the paper examines the second question, (...) the Just Burden Question. To answer this question, I argue, it is necessary to address two important methodological questions (one concerning the choice between what I term Integrationism and Isolationism and the other concerning the choice between what I term Holism and Atomism). Sections III-V, thus, set out and explore these two methodological issues. Having done so, the paper then turns from methodological issues to substantive analysis, and in Section VI it examines three principles of distributive justice that, it has been suggested, should determine how the burden of addressing dangerous climatic changes should be distributed (the Polluter Pays Principle, the Ability to Pay Principle and the Beneficiary Pays Principle). (shrink)
Many agents have failed to comply with their responsibilities to take the action needed to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change. This pervasive noncompliance raises two questions of nonideal political theory. First, it raises the question of what agents should do when others do not discharge their climate responsibilities. (the Responsibility Question) In this paper I put forward four principles that we need to employ to answer the Responsibility Question (Sections II-V). I then illustrate my account, by outlining four kinds of (...) action that should be undertaken (Section VI). Pervasive noncompliance also raises a second question: Given the lack of progress in combating climate change, should existing governance structures be maintained or changed (and if they should be changed, in what ways)? (the Governance Question). The paper briefly outlines a methodology for addressing this question and outlines what a nonideal response to the existing institutional structures would be (Section VII). It does so with reference to the Paris Agreement, and in particular the creation of a "global stocktake" (Article 14, Paris Agreement) and the "facilitative dialogue" (paragraph 20 of the ‘Adoption of the Paris Agreement’). The aim, then, is to set out an account of a nonideal theory of climate justice. (shrink)
Climate change is projected to have very severe impacts on future generations. Given this, any adequate response to it has to consider the nature of our obligations to future generations. This paper seeks to do that and to relate this to the way that inter-generational justice is often framed by economic analyses of climate change. To do this the paper considers three kinds of considerations that, it has been argued, should guide the kinds of actions that one generation should take (...) if it is to treat both current and future people equitably. In particular it examines the case for what has been termed pure time discounting, growth discounting and opportunity cost discounting; and it assesses their implications for climate policy. It argues that none of these support the claims of those who think they give us reason to delay aggressive mitigation policies. It also finds, however, that the second kind of argument can, in certain circumstances, provide support for passing on some of the costs of mitigation to future generations. (shrink)
The paper has the following structure. In Section I, I introduce some important methodological preliminaries by asking: How should one reason about global environmental justice in general and global climate change in particular? Section II introduces the key normative argument; it argues that global climate change damages some fundamental human interests and results in a state of affairs in which the rights of many are unprotected: as such it is unjust. Section III addresses the complexities that arise from the fact (...) that some of the ill effects of global climate change will fall on the members of future generations. Section IV shows that some prevailing approaches are unable to deal satisfactorily with the challenges posed by global climate change. If the argument of this paper is correct, it follows that those who contribute to global climate change through high emissions are guilty of human rights violations and they should be condemned as such. (shrink)
What kind of political systems should there be? In this paper I examine two competing principles of institutional design — an instrumental view, which maintains that one should design institutions so as to realize the most plausible conception of justice, and a democratic view, which maintains that one should design institutions so as to enable persons to participate in the decisions that impact their lives. I argue for a mixed view that combines these two principles. In the second stage of (...) the argument, I draw on this principle of institutional design to argue for the need for suprastate institutions. These are required to protect persons’ core basic rights and, over and above that, they are needed to provide fair and legitimate procedures for choosing which rules should govern the global economy and environment. The third stage of the argument develops this account by elaborating on what features global institutions must possess for them to perform these two distinct kinds of roles. (shrink)
This essay examines the relationship between climate change and human rights. It argues that climate change is unjust, in part, because it jeopardizes several core rights – including the right to life, the right to food and the right to health. It then argues that adopting a human rights framework has six implications for climate policies. To give some examples, it argues that this helps us to understand the concept of “dangerous anthropogenic interference” (UNFCCC, Article 2). In addition to this, (...) it argues that if we adopt a human rights framework then any climate policies should also honour human rights, and so mitigation policies, for example, should not compromise people’s enjoyment of their human rights. A third implication, I argue, is that in addition to duties of mitigation and adaptation there will also be – if rights are violated – duties of compensation too. (shrink)
This paper defends a global principle of equality of opportunity, which states that it is unfair if some have worse opportunities because of their national or civic identity. It begins by outlining the reasoning underpinning this principle. It then considers three objections to global equality of opportunity. The first argues that global equality of opportunity is an inappropriate ideal given the great cultural diversity that exists in the world. The second maintains that equality of opportunity applies only to people who (...) are interconnected in some way and infers from this that it should not be implemented at the global level. The third, inspired by Rawls's The Law of Peoples, maintains that it is inappropriate to thrust liberal ideals (like global equality of opportunity) on nonliberal peoples. Each of these challenges, I argue, is unpersuasive. (shrink)
Michael Blake’s excellent book 'Justice and Foreign Policy' makes an important contribution to the ongoing debates about the kinds of values that should inform the foreign policy of liberal states. In this paper I evaluate his defence of the view that egalitarianism applies within the state but not globally. I discuss two arguments he gives for this claim - one appealing to the material preconditions of democracy and the other grounded in a duty to justify coercive power. I argue that (...) neither argument succeeds. I then identify a general problem with his approach. If states adopted Blake’s principles for their foreign policy we would have a much better world than currently exists. But it would not – I submit - be a fair world. (shrink)
The literature on global justice contains a number of distinct approaches. This article identifies and reviews recent work in four commonly found in the literature. First there is an examination of the cosmopolitan contention that distributive principles apply globally. This is followed by three responses to the cosmopolitanism, – the nationalist emphasis on special duties to co-nationals, the society of states claim that principles of global distributive justice violate the independence of states and the realist claim that global justice is (...) utopian and that states should advance national interest. (shrink)
Cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gas emissions are an important part of the climate change policies of the EU, Japan, New Zealand, among others, as well as China (soon). However, concerns have been raised on a variety of ethical grounds about the use of markets to reduce emissions. In this paper we examine three types of concern. The first holds that emissions trading schemes are 'unethical'. We examine five ethical objections. These objections hold that emissions trading is unethical because it: involves (...) owning what should not be owned (objection 1), involves alienating responsibilities that should not be alienated (objection 2), necessarily worsens the condition of the vulnerable (objection 3), puts a price on the natural world (objection 4), and converts what ought to be a 'fine' into a 'fee' (objection 5). We find all five ethical objections unpersuasive. We then turn to consider a second kind of objection - namely that emissions trading schemes involve an unjust distribution of burdens and benefits. Finally, we consider the arguments adduced by those who question the effectiveness of emissions trading in reducing emissions. We conclude that only the objections based on distributional justice can be sustained. This points to reform of the carbon market system, rather than its elimination. (shrink)
It is a commonplace that in many societies people adhere to profoundly different conceptions of the good. Given this we need to know what political principles are appropriate. How can we treat people who are committed to different accounts of the good with fairness? One recent answer to this pressing question is given by Brian Barry in his important work Justice as Impartiality. This book, of course, contains much more than this. It includes a powerful and incisive discussion of several (...) accounts of distributive justice, a critique of other attempts to defend liberal neutrality and a rebuttal of those who are critical of the ideal of impartiality. In this paper I wish, however, to focus on Barry's defence of liberal neutrality. The paper falls into three parts. Section I outlines the thesis that Barry wants to defend and gives a brief sketch of the argument he employs to defend it. Barry's argument makes two claims – what I have termed the Sceptical Thesis and the Agreement Thesis. Section II therefore critically assesses Barry's defence of the sceptical thesis and Section III examines the agreement thesis. (shrink)
In a recent paper in this journal I argued that the distribution of the burdens involved in combating climate change should be determined by a combination of a particular version of the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) and a particular version of the Ability to Pay Principle. Carl Knight has presented three objections to my analysis. In what follows, I argue that he largely misinterprets my arguments.
(1998). Liberal legitimacy, reasonable disagreement and justice. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy: Vol. 1, Pluralsim and Liberal Neutrality, pp. 19-36. doi: 10.1080/13698239808403246.
Cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gas emissions are an important part of the climate change policies of the EU, Japan, New Zealand, among others, as well as China and Australia. However, concerns have been raised on a variety of ethical grounds about the use of markets to reduce emissions. For example, some people worry that emissions trading allows the wealthy to evade their responsibilities. Others are concerned that it puts a price on the natural environment. Concerns have also been raised about (...) the distributional justice of emissions trading. Finally, some commentators have questioned the actual effectiveness of emissions trading in reducing emissions. This paper considers these three categories of objections – ethics, justice and effectiveness – through the lens of moral philosophy and economics. It is concluded that only the objections based on distributional justice can be sustained. This points to reform of the carbon market system, rather than its elimination. (shrink)
Governments are often so focused on short-term gains that they ignore the long term, thus creating extra unnecessary burdens on their citizens, and violating their responsibilities to future generations. What can be done about this? In this paper I propose a package of reforms to the ways in which policies are made by legislatures, and in which those policies are scrutinised, implemented and evaluated. The overarching aim is to enhance the accountability of the decision-making process in ways that take into (...) account the interests of persons in the future. (shrink)