Climate change is the most difficult threat facing humanity this century and negotiations to reach international agreement have so far foundered on deep issues of justice. Providing provocative and imaginative answers to key questions of justice, informed by political insight and scientific understanding, this book offers a new way forward.
Climate change confronts humanity with a challenge it has never faced before. It combines issues of global justice and intergenerational justice on an unprecedented scale. In particular, it stands to adversely affect the global poor. So far, the global community has failed to reduce emissions to levels that are necessary to avoid unacceptable risks for the future. Nor are the burdens of emission reductions and of coping with climate impacts fairly shared. The shortcomings of both political (...) and individual climate action thus seem like a paradigmatic case for non-ideal theory. Non-ideal theory can be understood as a form of political theorising that compares different responses to (i) failures of agents to comply with the demands of justice and (ii) unfavourable circumstances. Insofar as non-ideal theory also aims to be action-guiding, it asks normative theorists for a more thorough engagement with the empirical context so as to arrive at practical recommendations for the ‘here and now’. This volume examines the normative issues that become relevant when the non-ideal circumstances of the climate context are fully taken into account. It is comprised of three parts: The first collects chapters that reflect on general issues in responding to the shortcomings of current climate action. Chapters in the second part propose more specific practical reforms. The third part examines how moral values ought to be brought into the scientific, political, and public debates under the non-ideal circumstances of this world. (shrink)
Climate change can be interpreted as a unique case of historical injustice involving issues of both intergenerational and global justice. We split the issue into two separate questions. First, how should emission rights be distributed? Second, who should come up for the costs of coping with climate change? We regard the first question as being an issue of pure distributive justice and argue on prioritarian grounds that the developing world should receive higher per capita emission rights (...) than the developed world. This is justified by the fact that the latter already owns a larger share of benefits associated with emission generating activities because of its past record of industrialisation. The second question appears to be an issue of compensatory justice. After defining what we mean by compensation, we show that different kinds of compensatory principles run into problems when used to justify payments by historical emitters of the North to people suffering from climate change in the South. As an alternative, we propose to view payments from wealthy countries for adaptation to climate change in vulnerable countries rather as a measure based on concerns of global distributive justice. (shrink)
This article lays out a capabilities and justice-based approach to the development of adaptation policy. While many theories of climatejustice remain focused on ideal theories for global mitigation, the argument here is for a turn to just adaptation, using a capabilities framework to encompass vulnerability, social recognition, and public participation in policy responses. This article argues for a broadly defined capabilities approach to climatejustice, combining a recognition of the vulnerability of basic needs with (...) a process for public involvement. Such an approach can be used to engage stakeholders with varied perceptions of what is at risk, and to develop priorities for adaptation policy. It addresses both individual and community-level vulnerabilities, and acknowledges that the conditions of justice depend on a functioning, even if shifting, environment. (shrink)
The link between justice and climate change is becoming increasingly prominent in public debates on climate policy. This clear and concise philosophical introduction to climatejustice addresses the hot topic of climate change as a moral challenge. Using engaging everyday examples the authors address the core arguments by providing a comprehensive and balanced overview of this heated debate, enabling students and practitioners to think critically about the subject area and to promote discussion on questions (...) such as: Why do anything in the face of climate change? How much do we owe our descendants – a better world, or nothing at all? How should we distribute the burden of climate action between industrialized and developing countries? Should I adopt a green lifestyle even if no one else makes an effort? Which means of reducing emissions are permissible? Should we put hope in technological solutions? Should we re-design democratic institutions for more effective climate policy? With chapter summaries, illustrative examples and suggestions for further reading, this book is an ideal introduction for students in political philosophy, applied ethics and environmental ethics, as well as for practitioners working on one of the most urgent issues of our time. (shrink)
The paper argues against the assumption that citizens of industrialized countries bear responsibility for greenhouse emissions in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. An array of arguments for such a historic responsibility is refuted. The crucial role of the assumption of a liability for bona fide misappropriation in a state of nature (Lockean strict liability) is pointed out.
ABSTRACTThis paper puts forward a normative framework to differentiate between the climate-related responsibilities of different countries in the aftermath of the Paris Agreement. It offers reasons for applying the chief moral principles of ‘historical responsibility’ and ‘capacity’ to climate finance instead of climate change mitigation targets. This will provide a normative basis to realize the goal of climate change mitigation while allowing for developing and newly industrialized countries to develop economically and offer an account of the (...) distributive principles that can regulate climate finance. This is a real-world interpretation of the 1992 UNFCCC principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ that takes into account the progress accomplished at the COP21 in Paris and offers a solution to the still unsolved problem of differentiated responsibilities. This paper offers an application of this proposal to the Green Climate Fund. (shrink)
Based on three recently published books on climatejustice, this article reviews the field of climate ethics in light of developments of international climate politics. The central problem addressed is how idealised normative theories can be relevant to the political process of negotiating a just distribution of the costs and benefits of mitigating climate change. I distinguish three possible responses, that is, three kinds of non-ideal theories of climatejustice: focused on (1) the (...) injustice of some agents not doing their part; (2) the policy process and aiming to be realistic; and (3) grievances related to the transition to a clean-energy economy. The methodological discussion underpinning each response is innovative and should be of interest more generally, even though it is still underdeveloped. The practical upshot, however, is unclear: even non-ideal climatejustice may be too disconnected from the fast-moving and messy climate circus. (shrink)
Recent work has suggested that our cognitive biases and moral psychology may pose significant barriers to tackling climate change. Here, we report evidence that through status and group-based social influence processes, and our moral sense of justice, it may be possible to employ such characteristics of the human mind in efforts to engender pro-environmental action. We draw on applied work demonstrating the efficacy of social modeling techniques in order to examine the indirect effects of social model status and (...) group membership on pro-environmental action tendencies. We find evidence that high- status models increase pro-environmental action, in part, through making such actions seem morally fairer to undertake. This effect of high-status models only occurs when they share a meaningful ingroup membership with the target of influence. Further, we find evidence that this conditional effect of high-status models may also have a direct impact on action tendencies. While the exact behaviors that are influenced may vary across student and non-student samples, we argue that a focus on the “justice pathway” to action and the social-cognitive features of models may offer a good opportunity for cognitive and behavioral scientists to integrate insights from basic research with those stemming from more applied research efforts. (shrink)
This article proposes reframing the justice discourse in climate negotiations. In so doing, it makes two claims. First, global climate negotiations deserve to be addressed as an issue of justice on their own due to their peculiar characteristics. Second, a multidimensional theory of justice is superior to distributional theories for this task. To support these arguments, I apply the multidimensional theory of justice to global climate negotiations. This analysis reveals that injustice in the (...) negotiations is multidimensional and irreducible to distributional questions. Furthermore, it shows how promoting justice in this broad sense would have significant effect on the negotiation procedures and substantive outcomes. (shrink)
This paper seeks to provide a literary review of advancements in climate change ethics, primarily concerning the issue of climatejustice. Through a close examination of three recent books written on this topic, I intend to identify which author’s approach has been the most successful in analyzing the various moral problems associated with climatejustice, before elucidating what weaknesses and shortcomings need to be addressed in moving forward. The books examined are The Moral Challenge of (...) Dangerous Climate Change: Values, Poverty, and Policy, by Darrel Moellendorf ; Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle against Climate Change Failed—and What It Means for Our Future, by Dale Jamieson ; and... (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 climatejustice. (shrink)
Liberal environmentalism, or green politics, intends to Dind a compromise between the prevailing global economic order and the need to protect the environment. The idea of sustainability, introduced in the Rio Summit, is the central component of international climate agreements. But on closer analysis, it can be argued that the problem of climate change is rooted in a neo-liberal system in which corporate interests collude with state policies. The free market is one of the fundamental causes of the (...) systematic destruction of the environment. Big corporations, so motivated by proDit, cannot be trusted to absorb the huge social costs of environmental degradation. For this reason, the use of indigenous wisdom is proposed to balance our way of life and environmental preservation. The study argues that climatejustice would require dismantling an exploitative economic order to avert the existential threat from changing climactic patterns. (shrink)
To what extent does John Rawls’ theory of international justice meet the normative challenges posed by climate change? There are two broadly compatible Rawlsian ways of addressing climate change. The first alternative is based on the two principles that Rawls applies to the domains of international and intergenerational justice. The second alternative starts from Rawls’ general theory of international justice, in particular his idea of a Society of Peoples, which is an idealized vision of a (...) peaceful and stable association of peoples that are internally well-ordered, and share a desire to respect and uphold international law. Given the statutes peoples are willing to observe, the defining characteristics of peoples, and the fact that Rawls indicates that his own rendering of international law is incomplete, there may be grounds for proposing an additional statute, or an amendment, to The Law of Peoples, that pertains to climate change and that does not contradict, but rather follows from, the general framework of the theory. The latter alternative provides a more viable account of climatejustice than critics has hitherto acknowledged. (shrink)
The images of human suffering from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina remain seared in our nation's collective memory. More than 8 years on, the city and its African-American population still have not recovered fully. This reality highlights an important truth: the disturbances that accompany climate change will first and foremost affect minority communities, many of whom are economically disadvantaged. This paper: (1) describes how Hurricane Katrina, an example of the type of natural disaster that will become (...) more prevalent with intensifying climate change, has impacted the black community of New Orleans; (2) explores the notion that African Americans, in the midst of racial oppression, have developed a unique and powerful brand of environmental thought that has much to contribute to mainstream environmentalism; and (3) argues that the voice of the black community, which has a vested interest in climate outcomes, is critically needed in today's climate debate. (shrink)
Climatejustice requires sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly. This book brings together economic and philosophical discourse on climatejustice in order to support public policy dialogue on the topic.
The latest news from our planet is threatening: climate change, pollution, forest loss, species extinctions. All these words are frightening and there is no sign of improvement. Simple logic leads to the conclusion that humanity has to react, for its own survival. But at the scale of a human being, it is less obvious. Organizing one’s daily life in order to preserve the environment implies self-questioning, changing habits, sacrificing some comfort. In one word, it is an effort. Then, what (...) justifies such an effort? The personal choice to act in order to preserve our environment is often made by simple altruism. This choice is based on our love for other human beings: our love for the others grounds our effort. Our moral values, our ethical reflections and our religious beliefs are the deep core of these choices. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15.12 NRSV). This Charter shows the moral and religious values that can help us react regarding the current environmental crisis and it should empower us to transcend the ideas of effort and sacrifice in order to consider the respect of the shared house, in a prophetic fulfillment of the being. (shrink)
Arguing that issues of both emissions and subsistence should be comprehended within a single framework of justice, the proposal here is that this broader framework be developed by reference to the idea of "ecological space.".
Climate change is a turning point in human history, necessitating human–ecological transformation on an individual, local, and global scale. Metropolitan regions offer an opportunity for collective action that can transform individuals and communities by expanding and re-integrating our localities, while making a significant impact on global climate change. The Breakthrough Compass is a conceptual tool for navigating the transition from fragmented self toward wholeness and connection to place, while transforming our world. This article offers stories and case studies (...) illustrating how metropolitan regional climatejustice coalitions can galvanize this local and global transformation. (shrink)
Environmentalism has long placed heavy emphasis on strategies that seek to ensure the environment of today and the future roughly mirror the past. Yet while past-oriented approaches have come under increased scrutiny, environmental ethics in the time of climate change is still largely conceptualized as that which could pull humanity back from the brink of disaster or, at least, prevent the worst of it. As a result, practical and conceptual tools for grappling with what is owed to the dead (...) and dying victims of environmental injustice have been and continue to be woefully underdeveloped. This paper advances scaffolding for robust environmental death ethics that are temporally pluralistic and at home within intergenerational climatejustice. (shrink)
Not all countries do their fair share in the effort of preventing dangerous climate change. This presents those who are willing to do their part with the question whether they should 'take up the slack' and try to compensate for the non-compliers' failure to reduce emissions. There is a pro tanto reason for doing so given the human rights violations associated with dangerous climate change. The article focuses on fending off two objections against a duty to take up (...) the slack: that it is unfair and ineffective. We grant that it is unfair if some have to step in for others but argue that this does not amount to a decisive objection under conditions of partial compliance. With regard to the charge of emission reductions being ineffective, we argue that the empirical case for this claim is missing and that even if it were not, there still remains the option of taking up the slack in other forms. (shrink)
Storm surges, flooding, heatwaves, and prolonged drought, as ever more regular features of life under deteriorating climate conditions, are unmistakably violent. Their effects on the lives of vulnerable human populations and ecosystems across the world are widely known to be devastating. Yet a legal order that denies the victims of such ecological persecution safe haven, no matter how great its use of force cannot, by definition, be violent. The power of law, used to protect states’ rights to exclude from (...) their jurisdictions growing numbers displaced involuntarily by global climate harms, in being a source of ‘legitimate right’, is never the same as violence. This article challenges the ongoing validity of this assumption. It points to some of the ways in which legal instruments are used today to deny those displaced by climatic conditions sufficient normative status to guarantee their safety. What is needed instead is a new critical normative understanding of the evolving relationship between climate change, violence, justice, and law, one that re-assesses the democratic justificatory grounds for the current positions of non-responsibility for the climate displaced whilst re-affirming such people’s legal and political status as equal co-members of the politically constituted international community of humanity. (shrink)
This paper examines the proposal that the indigenous cosmovision of buen vivir (good living)—the “organizing principle” of Ecuador's 2008 and Bolivia's 2009 constitutional reforms—constitutes an appropriate basis for responding to climate change. Advocates of this approach blame climate change on a “civilizational crisis” that is fundamentally a crisis of modern Enlightenment reason. Certain Latin American feminists and indigenous women, however, question the implications, for women, of any proposed “civilizational shift” seeking to reverse the human separation from nonhuman nature (...) wrought via Enlightenment's “disenchantment of nature.” The paper argues that, in order to adequately address both the climate crisis and feminist concerns about buen vivir, a different critique of Enlightenment modernity is necessary—one drawing on Adorno's philosophy of negative dialectics and on Adorno and Horkheimer's nonidentitarian dialectical understanding of Enlightenment. Conceiving Enlightenment as composed of nonsublatable moments of domination and liberation, Adorno and Horkheimer call for a rational critique of reason and for affinity rather than identity with nonhuman nature. The paper ends with a brief discussion of how feminist critiques of buen vivir and approaches to climatejustice can be furthered via an engagement with an environmental feminist philosophy informed by a negative dialectical approach to Enlightenment. (shrink)
When the policies and activities of one country or generation harm both other nations and later generations, they constitute serious injustices. Recognizing the broad threat posed by anthropogenic climate change, advocates for an international climate policy development process have expressly aimed to mitigate this pressing contemporary environmental threat in a manner that promotes justice. Yet, while making justice a primary objective of global climate policy has been the movement's noblest aspiration, it remains an onerous challenge (...) for policymakers. -/- Atmospheric Justice is the first single-authored work of political theory that addresses this pressing challenge via the conceptual frameworks of justice, equality, and responsibility. Throughout this incisive study, Steve Vanderheiden points toward ways to achieve environmental justice by exploring how climate change raises issues of both international and intergenerational justice. In addition, he considers how the design of a global climate regime might take these aims into account. Engaging with the principles of renowned political philosopher John Rawls, he expands on them by factoring in the needs of future generations. Vanderheiden also demonstrates how political theory can contribute to reaching a better understanding of the proper human response to climate change. By showing how climate policy offers insights into resolving contemporary controversies within political theory, he illustrates the ways in which applying normative theory to policy allows us to better understand both. -/- Thoroughly researched and persuasively argued, Atmospheric Justice makes an important step toward providing us with a set of carefully elaborated first principles for achieving environmental justice. (shrink)
Expectations play an important role in how people plan their lives and pursue their projects. People living in highly industrialized countries share a way of life that comes with high levels of emissions. Their expectations to be able to continue their projects imply their holding expectations to similarly high future levels of personal emissions. We argue that the frustration or undermining of these expectations would cause them significant harm. Further, the article investigates under what conditions people can be thought to (...) hold legitimate expectations, in particular about permissible levels of future emissions. We distinguish differing theories of understanding these conditions, namely authority-based and justice-based theories, that each allows us to systematically distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate expectations. Furthermore, with respect to individuals’ future permissible emissions we give several reasons for holding that such theories cannot identify a particular expectation to a specific level of personal emissions as the only legitimate one. Finally, we argue that the set of legitimate expectations that people hold with respect to a just and effective solution to climate change has normative significance in at least two ways: the differing but equally legitimate expectations ought to be taken into account when justifying what could count as such a solution and when determining the just way of arriving at and implementing such a solution. (shrink)
To address climate change fairly, many conflicting claims over natural resources must be balanced against one another. This has long been obvious in the case of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas sinks including the atmosphere and forests; but it is ever more apparent that responses to climate change also threaten to spur new competition over land and extractive resources. This makes climate change an instance of a broader, more enduring and - for many - all too familiar (...) problem: the problem of human conflict over how the natural world should be cared for, protected, shared, used, and managed. -/- This work develops a new theory of global egalitarianism concerning natural resources, rejecting both permanent sovereignty and equal division, which is then used to examine the problem of climate change. It formulates principles of resource right designed to protect the ability of all human beings to satisfy their basic needs as members of self-determining political communities, where it is understood that the genuine exercise of collective self-determination is not possible from a position of significant disadvantage in global wealth and power relations. These principles are used to address the question of where to set the ceiling on future greenhouse gas emissions and how to share the resulting emissions budget, in the face of conflicting claims to fossil fuels, climate sinks, and land. It is also used to defend an unorthodox understanding of responsibility for climate change as a problem of global justice, based on its provenance in historical injustice concerning natural resources. (shrink)
Climate change raises questions of justice. Some people are enjoying the benefits of energy use and other emissions-generating activities, but those activities are causing other people to suffer the burdens of climate change. Political philosophers have begun to pay more attention to the problem of “climatejustice.” However, contributors to the literature have made quite different methodological assumptions about how we should develop a theory of climatejustice and defend principles of climate (...)justice. So far, there has been little systematic or detailed discussion of these methodological issues. One way to approach these issues is by developing a methodological framework for thinking about climatejustice, or more specifically, a five-stage framework, drawing on recent work on two issues: first, the distinction between “ideal” and “non-ideal” theory; and second, the distinction between “integrationist” and “isolationist” approaches to environmental and climatejustice. This methodological framework can also be used to inform critical analysis of extant theories of climatejustice, for example, through a critical discussion of two key features of the theory of climatejustice developed by Simon Caney. (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)