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)
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)
Precautionary Principles are often said to be appropriate for decision-making in contexts of uncertainty such as climate policy. Contexts of uncertainty are contrasted to contexts of risk depending on whether we have probabilities or not. Against this view, I argue that the risk-uncertainty distinction is practically irrelevant. I start by noting that the history of the distinction between risk and uncertainty is more varied than is sometimes assumed. In order to examine the distinction, I unpack the idea of having probabilities, (...) in particular by distinguishing three interpretations of probability: objective, epistemic, and subjective probability. I then claim that if we are concerned with whether we have probabilities at all—regardless of how low their epistemic credentials are—then we almost always have probabilities for policy-making. The reason is that subjective and epistemic probability are the relevant interpretations of probability and we almost always have subjective and epistemic probabilities. In contrast, if we are only concerned with probabilities that have sufficiently high epistemic credentials, then we obviously do not always have probabilities. Climate policy, for example, would then be a case of decision-making under uncertainty. But, so I argue, we should not dismiss probabilities with low epistemic credentials. Rather, when they are the best available probabilities our decision principles should make use of them. And, since they are almost always available, the risk-uncertainty distinction remains irrelevant. (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 climate justice 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)
Empirical research on environmental justice often simplifies normative implica tions, and ethical investigations in these fields often lack real-world complexity. A new working group bridges these gaps.
As our experience with this special issue shows, climate change is such a multi-faceted problem that interdisciplinary research is a necessity. This is much more easily said than done. In the course of the publication of this special issue there were many lessons to be learned. First of all we saw how the exchange between our authors allowed them to expand the focus of their respective disciplines. Philosophers considered literature from various fields they would not have touched upon in their (...) usual course of inquiry. Scientists and legal scholars became more sensitive to the normative dimensions and justice-related intricacies involved in their research. This enabled all contributors to open up to different vocabularies and standards of research. At the same time, however, several obstacles to the success of this issue emerged as well. For such an endeavor it is necessary to find researchers who are ready to engage with other disciplines and to take up ideas and comments which at first sight might not seem relevant and out of place from their disciplinary perspective. Due to the special format another challenge was to communicate the interdisciplinary character of this special issue to the reviewers and to put the reviews in context accordingly without risking to diminish the disciplinary quality of contributions. For the guest editors this came with a further challenge. We not only had to become familiar with different disciplinary vocabularies and standards of research but also had to judge the quality and relevance of contributions in the light of our overall aim as well as disciplinary standards of quality. (shrink)
Effective altruism has become a worldwide phenomenon. The movement combines empathy and reason in the attempt to improve the world. Adherents don’t let moral gut instincts dictate their altruistic efforts, but use evidence and reflection to do the most good they can. Effective altruism originated, and primarily grew, in strongly secular environments—such as philosophy departments or Silicon Valley. So far, a religious perspective on this movement has been lacking. What can people of faith learn from effective altruism? What may they (...) criticise? What can effective altruism in turn take from religion? This volume offers a first examination of these questions, covering various Christian as well as Jewish and Buddhist perspectives. (shrink)