Justice for Future Generations

Justice for Future Generations

Climate Change and International Law

Peter Lawrence

Peter Lawrence’s Justice for Future Generations breaks new ground by using a multidisciplinary approach to tackle the issue of what ethical obligations current generations have towards future generations in addressing the threat of climate change. This insightful book draws on contemporary theories of justice to develop a number of principles which are used to critique the existing global climate change treaties. These principles are also used as a blueprint for suggestions on how to develop a much-needed global treaty on climate change. The approach is pragmatic in that the justice–ethics argument rests on widely shared values and is informed by the author’s extensive experience in the negotiation of global environmental treaties as an Australian diplomat.

Chapter 1: Introduction: the climate change problem and solutions

Peter Lawrence

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, law and society, legal philosophy, public international law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy

Extract

This book examines what justice requires of current generations in addressing climate change to safeguard the welfare of future generations and how such obligations should be reflected in international law. The first part of this question is addressed by identifying several essential criteria for ensuring intergenerational justice in relation to climate change. These criteria - or justice principles - provide a basis for critically assessing the existing international law regime for climate change. They also provide a springboard for reforming contemporary international climate change law. The challenge of addressing anthropogenic climate change raises intergenerational equity or justice issues. Future generations who did not cause climate change will be the most severely impacted. This applies not only to individual or generations' contributions to creating the problem, but also in relation to nation states. The most graphic example is that the small island states of Kiribati and Tuvalu, with negligible contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), will be amongst the nations most severely affected, with the land mass of these Pacific island states becoming uninhabitable because of salt water intrusion and ultimately because they are completely submerged in the coming century. Climate change also raises issues of intragenerational justice in terms of which states and societies should bear the costs of mitigating climate change by reducing (GHG) emissions.