About this topic
Summary Climate change threatens to create serious risks, ranging from economic risks to increased risk of death and disease to the complete annihilation of small island states. The field of climate ethics (also known as "climate justice") includes questions about how global society should respond to the creation of such risks and who, exactly, should take responsibility for which parts of that response. Major issues include: How aggressively should society reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? How should the burden of achieving those reductions be distributed across and within nations? What role should adaptation play in responding to climate change? Should high emitters pay damages to affected parties? What responsibilities, if any, does climate change impose on individuals? Because climate change is unfolding on a global scale over long periods of time, and because it involves complex issues of politics, science, economics, and technology, answering these questions requires drawing on moral and political philosophy, philosophy of science and epistemology, philosophy of economics, and philosophy of technology, along with a range of other disciplines.
Key works The seminal review of climate ethics is still Gardiner 2004. For collections of key papers on various aspects of climate ethics, see Gardiner et al 2010, which compiles important papers from the first two decades of the field; Arnold 2011, which includes new papers on important issues in climate ethics; and Shue 2014, which collects major papers from one of the most important voices in climate ethics. Important monographs in climate ethics include Gardiner 2011, in which Gardiner delves more deeply into the structure of the moral problems raised by climate change; Broome 2012 and Moellendorf 2014, in which Broome and Moellendorf articulate their respective answers to key questions in climate ethics; and Vanderheiden 2008, in which Vanderheiden addresses issues of climate justice from the perspective of political theory. On the question of individual responsibility for climate change, see Sinnott-Armstrong 2005 (reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010); Hiller 2011, a reply to Sinnott-Armstrong; and for a different approach, Jamieson 2007 (also reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010).
Introductions Chapter 2 of Singer 2002 includes a highly accessible introduction to some key moral issues raised by climate change, suitable for beginning undergraduates. More advanced undergraduates might start with Hayward 2012. Graduate students and professionals looking for a concise survey of climate ethics should consider  Moellendorf 2015. Those looking for more detail, including relevant scientific and economic background, will find it in Gardiner 2004Broome 2012 provides an accessible book-length overview many key issues in climate ethics, along with a primer on climate science and climate economics. For an overview of the literature on climate change and individual responsibilities, see Fragnière 2016.
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  1. Self Deception and Happiness.Talya D. Osseily - manuscript
    The argument in this essay will be divided into two parts: utilitarian and virtue ethics, where each party will agree or disagree with the idea that self-deception leads to happiness, taking climate change and meat production as examples to support their claims.
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  2. How To Be Rational: How to Think and Act Rationally.David Robert - manuscript
    This book is divided into 2 sections. In Section 1 (How to think rationally), I address how to acquire rational belief attitudes and, on that basis, I consider the question whether one ought to be skeptical of climate change. In Section 2 (How to act rationally), I address how to make rational choices and, on that basis, I consider the questions whether one is rationally required to do what one can to support life-extension medical research and, more broadly, whether one (...)
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  3. Precautionary Paralysis.J. E. H. Simon - manuscript
    A brief examination of the self-negating quality of the precautionary principle within the context of environmental ethics, and its consequent failure, as an ethical guide, to justify large-scale regulation of atmospheric cabon dioxide emissions.
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  4. Is Geoengineering the ‘Lesser Evil’?Stephen Gardiner - manuscript
    Environmental Research Web, April 18, 2007.
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  5. People’s Conceptions and Valuations of Nature in the Context of Climate Change.Gisle Andersen, Kjersti Fløttum, Guillaume Carbou & Anje M. Gjesdal - forthcoming - Environmental Values.
    This paper investigates how people conceive and evaluate nature through language, in a climate change context. With material consisting of 1,200 answers to open-ended questions in nationally representative surveys in Norway, we explore what semantic roles and values the respondents attribute to nature as well as to how they interact with the public debate about climate change. We observe that different conceptions and valuations of nature are tied to different perspectives on the climate change issue: some address the responsibilities of (...)
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  6. The Relationship Between International Political Community and Civil Society Concerning Environment Protection and the Struggle Against Climate Change.Valeria Barbi & Marco Borraccetti - forthcoming - Governare la Paura. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
    The paper’s aim is to retrace the history of climate change through its definition and the process of negotiation aroused from the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). After a brief description of this institution, the basic principles beneath the whole system of environment protection and the struggle against climate change will be presented. The intention is to demonstrate how, despite the undeniable advancements of the latest decades, the international legislative framework, even supported by the (...)
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  7. Offsetting and Risk-Imposition.Christian Barry & Garrett Cullity - forthcoming - Ethics.
    Suppose you perform two actions. The first imposes a risk of harm that, on its own, would be excessive; but the second reduces the risk of harm by a corresponding amount. By pairing the two actions together to form a set of actions that is risk-neutral, can you thereby make your overall course of conduct permissible? This question is theoretically interesting, because the answer is apparently: sometimes Yes, sometimes No. It is also practically important, because it bears on the moral (...)
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  8. Beyond the Ramsey Model for Climate Change Assessments.S. Baum - forthcoming - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.
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  9. Two Forms of Responsibility: Reassessing Young on Structural Injustice.Valentin Beck - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-24.
    In this article, I critically reassess Iris Marion Young's late works, which centre on the distinction between liability and social connection responsibility. I concur with Young's diagnosis that structural injustices call for a new conception of responsibility, but I reject several core assumptions that underpin her distinction between two models and argue for a different way of conceptualising responsibility to address structural injustices. I show that Young's categorical separation of guilt and responsibility is not supported by the writings of Hannah (...)
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  10. On Individual and Shared Obligations: In Defense of the Activist’s Perspective.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - In Mark Budolfson, Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Philosophy and Climate Change. Oxford University Press.
    We naturally attribute obligations to groups, and take such obligations to have consequences for the obligations of group members. The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change provides an urgent case. It seems that we, together, have an obligation to prevent climate catastrophe, and that we, as individuals, have an obligation to contribute. However, understood strictly, attributions of obligations to groups might seem illegitimate. On the one hand, the groups in question—the people alive today, say—are rarely fully-fledged moral agents, making it (...)
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  11. Global Warming, Hybrid Technology, and Carbon Emissions.Ian P. Bork, Jonathan Garfinkel & Bruce Lusignan - forthcoming - Ethics.
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  12. A Legacy of Harm? Climate Change and the Carbon Cost of Procreation.Daniel Burkett - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
    There is growing acknowledgement of a moral obligation to curb our personal carbon emissions. However, while much has been said regarding certain kinds of carbon- ntensive behaviours, the philosophical literature has – until only very recently – been largely silent regarding one of the worst things that a person can choose to do from a climate perspective: namely, have a child. I contend that procreation is an inessential high-emission activity – one that results in inordinately greater emissions than other activities (...)
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  13. Geoengineering and Climate Change.W. C. G. Burns & J. Blackstock (eds.) - forthcoming - Cambridge University Press.
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  14. Global justice, natural resources, and climate change.Larry Alan Busk - forthcoming - Contemporary Political Theory:1-4.
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  15. 'Distributive Justice and Climate Change'.Simon Caney - forthcoming - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press.
    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, (...)
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  16. The Role of Philosophers in Climate Change.Eugene Chislenko - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    Some conceptions of the role of philosophers in climate change focus mainly on theoretical progress in philosophy, or on philosophers as individual citizens. Against these views, I defend a Skill View: philosophers should use our characteristic skills as philosophers to combat climate change by integrating it into our teaching, research, service, and community engagement. A focus on theoretical progress, citizenship, expertise, virtue, ability, social role, or power, rather than on skill, can allow for some of these contributions. But the Skill (...)
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  17. Beyond Ideal Theory: Foundations for a Critical Rawlsian Theory of Climate Justice.Paul Clements & Paul Formosa - forthcoming - New Political Science:1-20.
    Rawls’s contractualist approach to justice is well known for its adoption of ideal theory. This approach starts by setting out the political goal or ideal and leaves it to non-ideal or partial compliance theory to map out how to get there. However, Rawls’s use of ideal theory has been criticized by Sen from the right and by Mouffe from the left. We critically address these concerns in the context of developing a Rawlsian approach to climate justice. While the importance of (...)
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  18. The AI gambit: leveraging artificial intelligence to combat climate change—opportunities, challenges, and recommendations.Josh Cowls, Andreas Tsamados, Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi - forthcoming - AI and Society:1-25.
    In this article, we analyse the role that artificial intelligence could play, and is playing, to combat global climate change. We identify two crucial opportunities that AI offers in this domain: it can help improve and expand current understanding of climate change, and it can contribute to combatting the climate crisis effectively. However, the development of AI also raises two sets of problems when considering climate change: the possible exacerbation of social and ethical challenges already associated with AI, and the (...)
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  19. Let's Talk About the Weather: Decentering Democratic Debate About Climate Change.Tom D. Dillehay - forthcoming - Hypatia.
  20. The Fifth Planet.Loren Eiseley - forthcoming - Techne.
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  21. 21st Century Climate Change in the Middle East.Jason P. Evans - forthcoming - Climatic Change.
    This study examined the performance and future predictions for the Middle East produced by 18 global climate models participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. Under the Special Report on Emission Scenarios A2 emissions scenario the models predict an overall temperature increase of ~1.4 K by mid-century, increasing to almost 4 K by late-century for the Middle East. In terms of precipitation the southernmost portion of the domain experiences a small increase in precipitation due to the (...)
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  22. Community seed network in an era of climate change: dynamics of maize diversity in Yucatán, Mexico.Marianna Fenzi, Paul Rogé, Angel Cruz-Estrada, John Tuxill & Devra Jarvis - forthcoming - Agriculture and Human Values:1-18.
    Local seed systems remain the fundamental source of seeds for many crops in developing countries. Climate resilience for small holder farmers continues to depend largely on locally available seeds of traditional crop varieties. High rainfall events can have as significant an impact on crop production as increased temperatures and drought. This article analyzes the dynamics of maize diversity over 3 years in a farming community of Yucatán state, Mexico, where elevated levels of precipitation forced farmers in 2012 to reduce maize (...)
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  23. Environmental Pragmatism [Preprint].Steven Fesmire - forthcoming - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Environmental pragmatists argue that it is defeatist to declare in advance that the only effective way to deal with environmental problems is to usher in a complete cultural paradigm shift that radically transforms human value systems. Hence, they do not place a high priority on revolutionary attempts to convince doubters that natural systems, living beings, or sentient beings have intrinsic value. Instead, they prioritize creating a democratic context for adaptive decision processes, which of course includes the evaluation of vying principles. (...)
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  24. Climate Legacy: A Newish Concept for the Climate Crisis.Rachel Fredericks - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics.
    Individual and collective agents, especially affluent ones, are not doing nearly enough to prevent and prepare for the worst consequences of the unfolding climate crisis. This is, I suggest, partly because our existing conceptual repertoires are inadequate to the task of motivating climate-stabilizing activities. I argue that the concept CLIMATE LEGACY meets five desiderata for concepts that, through usage, have significant potential to motivate climate action. Contrasting CLIMATE LEGACY with CARBON FOOTPRINT, CLIMATE JUSTICE, and CARBON NEUTRALITY, I clarify some advantages (...)
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  25. Airborne Transport of Aerosols Into the South Atlantic Ocean: Assessment of Sources, Horizontal Fluxes, Iron Fertilizing Potential and Impact on Climate.Diego Gaiero - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  26. Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption.Stephen M. Gardiner - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics.
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  27. Attention to Values Helps Shape Convergence Research.Casey Helgeson, Robert E. Nicholas, Klaus Keller, Chris E. Forest & Nancy Tuana - forthcoming - Climatic Change.
    Convergence research is driven by specific and compelling problems and requires deep integration across disciplines. The potential of convergence research is widely recognized, but questions remain about how to design, facilitate, and assess such research. Here we analyze a seven-year, twelve-million-dollar convergence project on sustainable climate risk management to answer two questions. First, what is the impact of a project-level emphasis on the values that motivate and tie convergence research to the compelling problems? Second, how does participation in convergence projects (...)
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  28. The Meaning of Climate Change: An Interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty.Travis Holloway & Dipesh Chakrabarty - forthcoming - Philosophy Today.
    A wide-ranging interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Chicago and author of The Climate of History in a Planetary Age and Provincializing Europe. Dipesh Chakrabarty is one of the leading thinkers on climate change in the humanities. He is responsible for introducing concepts like the "Anthropocene," "geological force," and "species history" into history, philosophy, and literary theory.
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  29. Climate Change, Uncertainty and Policy.Jeroen Hopster - forthcoming - Springer.
    While the foundations of climate science and ethics are well established, fine-grained climate predictions, as well as policy-decisions, are beset with uncertainties. This chapter maps climate uncertainties and classifies them as to their ground, extent and location. A typology of uncertainty is presented, centered along the axes of scientific and moral uncertainty. This typology is illustrated with paradigmatic examples of uncertainty in climate science, climate ethics and climate economics. Subsequently, the chapter discusses the IPCC’s preferred way of representing uncertainties and (...)
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  30. Why It is so Hard to Teach People They Can Make a Difference: Climate Change Efficacy as a Non-Analytic Form of Reasoning.Matthew J. Hornsey, Cassandra M. Chapman & Dexter M. Oelrichs - forthcoming - Thinking and Reasoning:1-19.
    People who believe they have greater efficacy to address climate change are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviour. To confront the climate crisis, it will therefore be essential to u...
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  31. Descriptive Versus Prescriptive Discounting in Climate Change Policy Analysis.Kelleher J. Paul - forthcoming - Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy 15:957-977.
    This paper distinguishes between five different approaches to social discount rates in climate change economics, criticizes two of these, and explains how the other three are to some degree mutually compatible. It aims to shed some new light on a longstanding debate in climate change economics between so-called “descriptivists” and “prescriptivists” about social discounting. The ultimate goal is to offer a sketch of the conceptual landscape that makes visible some important facets of the debate that very often go unacknowledged.
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  32. Lake Level Responses to Semi-Arid Climate and Their Social Impacts in Turkey.Nizamettin Kazancı - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  33. The Social Cost of Carbon From Theory to Trump.J. Paul Kelleher - forthcoming - In Ravi Kanbur & Henry Shue (eds.), Climate Justice: Integrating Economics and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a central concept in climate change economics. This chapter explains the SCC and investigates it philosophically. As is widely acknowledged, any SCC calculation requires the analyst to make choices about the infamous topic of discount rates. But to understand the nature and role of discounting, one must understand how that concept—and indeed the SCC concept itself—is yoked to the concept of a value function, whose job is to take ways the world could be (...)
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  34. Environment, Ethics and Public Health: The Climate Change Dilemma.A. Kessel, C. Stephens & A. Dawson - forthcoming - Public Health Ethics: Key Concepts and Issues in Policy and Practice:154--173.
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  35. No Harm Done? An Experimental Approach to the Non-Identity Problem.Matthew Kopec & Justin P. Bruner - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    Discussions of the non-identity problem presuppose a widely shared intuition that actions or policies that change who comes into existence don't, thereby, become morally unproblematic. We hypothesize that this intuition isn’t generally shared by the public, which could have widespread implications concerning how to generate support for large-scale, identity-affecting policies relating to matters like climate change. To test this, we ran a version of the well-known dictator game designed to mimic the public's behavior over identity-affecting choices. We found the public (...)
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  36. Ethics of Climate Change Essay Contest.P. Kuhn - forthcoming - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.
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  37. Climate Ethics for Climate Action.Andrew Light - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics: What Really Matters.
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  38. New Solar System Force, Decay of Gravity, and Expansion of the Solar System.Charles William Bill Lucas Jr & Joseph J. Smulsky - forthcoming - Foundations of Science.
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  39. Climate–Fire–Vegetation Interactions During the Late Holocene in Las Yungas Upper Montane Forest, Lagunas de Yala. Northwestern Argentina.Liliana Concepción Lupo - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  40. Climate Change and Health: Bioethical Insights Into Values and Policy.Cheryl Macpherson (ed.) - forthcoming - Springer.
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  41. Holocene Climate Change and Human Settlement on the Semiarid Coast of Chile (32ºS).Antonio Maldonado - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  42. Carbon Pricing Ethics.Kian Mintz-Woo - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass:e12803.
    The three main types of policies for addressing climate change are command and control regulation, carbon taxes (or price instruments), and cap and trade (or quantity instruments). The first question in the ethics of carbon pricing is whether the latter two (price and quantity instruments) are preferable to command and control regulation. The second question is, if so, how should we evaluate the relative merits of price and quantity instruments. I canvass relevant arguments to explain different ways of addressing these (...)
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  43. Fossil Fuels.Kian Mintz-Woo - forthcoming - In Benjamin Hale & Andrew Light (eds.), Routledge Companion to Environmental Ethics. Routledge.
    First, with respect to our personal relationship to fossil fuels, this chapter introduces arguments about whether we should or even can address our own usage of fossil fuels. This involves determining whether offsetting emissions is morally required and practically possible. Second, with respect to our relationship with fossil fuels at the national level, it discusses forms of local resistance, especially divestment and pipeline protesting. Finally, with respect to our relationship with fossil fuels at the international level, it considers two types (...)
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  44. The Last 25, 000 Years of Vegetation and Climate History in NW Patagonia.Patricio I. Moreno - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  45. Holocene Vegetation and Climate Changes in Brazil Using Carbon Isotopes of Soil Organic Matter and Lacustrine Sediment Pollen Analysis.Luiz Carlos Ruiz Pessenda - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  46. The Effects of Morality on Acting Against Climate Change.Thomas Pölzler - forthcoming - In Richard Joyce & Richard Garner (eds.), The End of Morality. New York: Routledge.
    Suppose you are a moral error theorist, i.e., you believe that no moral judgment is true. What, then, ought you to do with regard to our common practice of making such judgments? Determining the usefulness of our ordinary moral practice is exacerbated by the great number and variety of moral judgments. In-depth case studies may thus be more helpful in clarifying error theory’s practical implications than reflections about morality in general. In this chapter I pursue this strategy with regard to (...)
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  47. Geoengineering as a Matter of Environmental Instrumentalism.Shane J. Ralston - forthcoming - In W. C. G. Burns & J. Blackstock (eds.), Geoengineering and Climate Change. Cambridge University Press.
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  48. Public Debt and Intergenerational Ethics: How to Fund a Green 'Apollo Program'?Matthew Rendall - forthcoming - Climate Policy.
    If the present generation refuses to bear the burden of mitigating global heating, could we motivate sufficient action by shifting that burden to our descendants? Several writers have proposed breaking the political impasse by funding mitigation through public debt. Critics attack such proposals as both unjust and infeasible. In fact, there is reason to think that some debt financing may be more equitable than placing the whole burden of mitigation on the present generation. While it might not be viable for (...)
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  49. Energy Consumption Behaviour and Attitudes Towards Climate Change in Hashtgerd New Town.Sabine Schröder, Jenny Schmithals, Nadia Poor-Rahim & Merten Kannegießer - forthcoming - Nexus.
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  50. Renewables.Anne Schwenkenbecher & Martin Brueckner - forthcoming - In Benjamin Hale & Andrew Light (eds.), Routledge Companion to Environmental Ethics. Routledge.
    There exist overwhelming – and morally compelling – reasons for shifting to renewable energy (RE), because only that will enable us to timely mitigate dangerous global warming. In addition, several other morally weighty reasons speak in favor of the shift: considerable public health benefits, broader environmental benefits, the potential for sustainable and equitable economic development and equitable energy access, and, finally, long-term energy security. Furthermore, it appears that the transition to RE is economically, technologically, and politically feasible at this point (...)
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