Climate Change: The Ethical Dimension
This brief paper, by Robin Attfield of Cardiff University, surveys the key themes and principles that apply to ethical considerations of climate change and, more particularly, to the obligations to act that the climate crisis imposes upon us. So, for example, you could consult it to see how the UNFCCC’s most famous words — “on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” — fit into the lager ethical framework. Note that this paper contains a cogent little critique of Contraction and Convergence, to which is compares Greenhouse Development Rights. GDRs, unsurprisingly, comes off the winner, but then Attfield suggests that C&C could be enhanced with a parallel effort to promote sustainable human development, which makes the comparison more interesting. Here’s Attfield’s conclusion:
When it comes to practical international negotiations, my suggestion would be that
negotiators should bear in mind both of these approaches (Contraction and Convergence
and also Greenhouse Development Rights), divergent as they are, and be willing to
implement either, or aspects of both, in the cause of securing a workable agreement. A
workable post-Kyoto agreement is so crucial for humanity that no purist approach, insisting
on the universal and unadulterated adoption of one approach or the other, is appropriate,
any more than any such approach is likely to succeed. Indeed any such approach would risk
consigning humanity to decades without an agreement, during which levels of carbon-
equivalent gases would accumulate, and whole island states and coastal cities would become
doomed, as many species are already. The prizes of attaining an agreement are also high,
including as they do not only stabilising Green-House Gas levels and preserving remaining
species and habitats, but also facilitating human development worldwide.
Here, if case you want to consult it, is the White Paper on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change that Attfield refers to.