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Human-induced climate change raises many profound ethical questions, yet many[who?] believe that these ethical issues have not been addressed adequately in climate change policy debates or in the scientific and economic literature on climate change; and that, consequently, ethical questions are being overlooked or obscured in climate negotiations, policies and discussions . It has been pointed out that those most responsible for climate change are not the same people as those most vulnerable to its effects.
Terms such as climate justice and ecological justice ('eco justice') are used worldwide, and have been adopted by various organizations.
An article in the scientific journal Nature (Patz, 2005) concluded that the human-induced warming that the world is now experiencing is already causing 150,000 deaths and 5 million incidents of disease each year from additional malaria and diarrhea, mostly in the poorest nations. Death and disease incidents are likely to soar as warming increases. Facts such as this demonstrate that climate change is compromising rights to life, liberty and personal security. Hence, ethical analysis of climate change policy must examine how that policy impacts on those basic rights.
Climate change raises a number of particularly challenging ethical issues about distributive justice, in particular concerning how to fairly share the benefits and burdens of climate change policy options. Many of the policy tools often employed to solve environmental problems such as cost-benefit analysis usually do not adequately deal with these issues because they often ignore questions of just distribution.
Collaborative Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change
In December 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Collaborative Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change was launched at the 10th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major outcome of this meeting was the Buenos Aires Declaration on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change.
The program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change seeks to:
- Facilitate express examination of ethical dimensions of climate change particularly for those issues entailed by specific positions taken by governments, businesses, NGOs, organizations, or individuals on climate change policy matters;
- Create better understanding about the ethical dimensions of climate change among policy makers and the general public;
- Assure that people around the world, including those most vulnerable to climate change, participate in any ethical inquiry about responses to climate change;
- Develop an interdisciplinary approach to inquiry about the ethical dimensions of climate change and support publications that examine the ethical dimensions of climate change;
- Make the results of scholarship on the ethical dimensions of climate change available to and accessible to policy makers, scientists, and citizen groups;
- Integrate ethical analysis into the work of other institutions engaged in climate change policy including the Intergovernmental Program on Climate Change and the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
Given the severity of impact to be expected and given the likelihood that some level of important disruptions in living conditions will occur for great numbers of people due to climate change events, this group contends that there is sufficient convergence among ethical principles to make a number of concrete recommendations on how governments should act, or identify ethical problems with positions taken by certain governments, organizations, or individuals.
Facts about climate change and fundamental human rights provide the starting point for climate ethics.
- Climate justice
- Climate Justice Action
- Climate Justice Now!
- Deliberative democracy
- Earth Summit of 1992
- Ecojustice Canada
- Greenhouse Development Rights
- Ethical banking
- Laudato si' (Catholic papal encyclical on environment)
- United Nations Conference on the Human Environment of 1972
- Action for climate empowerment (ACE)
- Broome, J. (2006). "Valuing policies in response to climate change: some ethical issues" (PDF). HM Treasury. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 15, 2009. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
- Vandana Shiva - 2005, Earth Democracy; Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, South End Press, ISBN 0-89608-745-X ; See the online "preview" version of this book at this link
- Climate Justice Action.
- Climate, Ethics and Equity[permanent dead link]
- Climate Ethics class at the University of Colorado
- Collaborative Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change
- GenderCC - Women for Climate Justice
- Baha'i International Environment Forum
- Research on Justice and Climate Change, Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs project on International Climate Agreements
- Earth Charter Initiative article
- Global Warming eco money
- James Garvey interviewed on the ethics of climate change
- Yale University's Links to organizations
- Princeton environmental ethics workshop