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The social dimensions of climate change

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Chapter 1 summarises our best knowledge about the predicted future of global warming and its potentially catastrophic implications for human habitats and human wellbeing. The policy options are summarised, divided between programmes to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it. But climate policy alone could be unjust and inequitable. The goal must be to respect biophysical boundaries while at the same time pursuing sustainable wellbeing: that is, wellbeing for all current peoples as well as for future generations. This means paying attention to its distribution between peoples, and to issues of equity and social justice. Between an upper boundary set by biophysical limits and a lower boundary set by decent levels of wellbeing for all today lies a safe and just space for humanity. The chapter concludes by noting two global landmarks in 2015: the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement. Together they reveal a yawning gap between what is needed for a safe climate and the prospects for a just and flourishing society.

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References

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

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References

Proposals, Arguments and Justification

Olivier Godard

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Preface

Proposals, Arguments and Justification

Olivier Godard

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Introduction

Proposals, Arguments and Justification

Olivier Godard

From the outset, international negotiations on climate change have faced strong demands for international and global justice. Despite the integration of several justice criteria into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, climate justice issues have remained difficult to resolve, resulting in persistent disagreements that have proven to be additional obstacles on the road to an international agreement. Hence international action to address the threat of global climate change has progressed far too slowly to enable humankind to achieve the goal of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This first chapter introduces the purpose of this book: to present and critically assess the dual landscape of discourses on global climate justice in relation to issues of international coordination and cooperation. Who should be held responsible for what? The first discourse comes from the actors involved in the negotiations, while the second comes from the investment of academic scholars in applied ethics, political philosophy and economics. This book restores the debates and arguments and reveals why several key concepts and proposals presented in these two discourses are ill-founded, contradictory or inappropriate to the specific situation of international coordination aimed at decarbonizing the world economy. It also offers another perspective on the same questions, that of the French school of justification. The latter emphasizes the dependence of relevant norms of justice on qualification of situations and the importance of the choice of coordination instruments for the configuration of justice issues. The case of a world carbon market brings an interesting example. On this basis, suggestions are made about the main directions to follow in terms of justification orders.

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Introduction

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

The Introduction sets out five distinctive features of the book. The first is a novel normative concept – universal human need – as the measure of wellbeing alongside, second, a political economy theory recognising the central role of global capitalism as the driver of climate change. Third, the book emphasises the role of consumption-based emissions in explaining the social and inequitable impacts of climate change. This leads, fourth, to proposals for new ‘eco-social’ policies to combine sustainable consumption with equity and justice and, fifth, to a strategy of ‘recomposing consumption’ in the rich world as a transitional stage between green growth and degrowth. The theoretical approach of the book is then set out in two parts: a normative theory of human need, and an eco-social political economy framework to explain the drivers, conflicts and contradictions of contemporary climate capitalism.

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Benoît Mayer and François Crépeau

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Edited by Anna Grear

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Kirsten Davies, Sam Adelman, Anna Grear, Catherine Iorns Magallanes, Tom Kerns and S Ravi Rajan

The Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change responds to the profound crisis of human hierarchies now characterizing the climate crisis. The Declaration, initiated prior to the 2015 COP 21 meeting by scholars from the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE), is one of a convergence of initiatives reflecting the need to understand human rights as intrinsically threatened by climate change. This article introduces the Declaration, the necessity for it, its philosophical and legal background and its support by contemporary cases providing evidence of the escalating legal need for such a tool. A key aim of the Declaration is to trace out a potential normative approach for establishing responsibility towards the planet and redressing unevenly distributed vulnerabilities and climate injustices while recognizing that it is vital that respect for human rights should be understood as an indispensable element of any adequate approach to climate change. The Declaration strives to offer a compelling level of ethical appeal, as well as to be legally literate and philosophically rigorous. The drafting process engaged scholars and communities from across the world, prioritized indigenous involvement, and drew on indigenous ontologies and epistemologies. Newer philosophical approaches such as new materialist understandings of lively materiality also informed the drafting process. Accordingly, the language of the Declaration creates space for non-Western ways of seeing and being as well as responding to insights emerging from new scientific understandings of the world.

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Peter H Sand

This article begins with an assessment of an elderly wildlife-related treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 1973 (CITES), and explains both how the convention was originally designed and how its Parties managed to develop it in innovative ways not envisaged by the original drafters. The article then turns to an assessment of the effectiveness of the convention in the modern world, and how an enforcement regime based on trade embargoes has been developed. This success, at least measured by indicators such as length of time it takes for states subject to sanctions to fall back into compliance, aside, the article then proceeds to question effectiveness as measured by indicators with less ‘high face validity’. Through close analysis of the history of trade embargoes, it is demonstrated that by and large it is developing countries that have been the subjects of sanctions under CITES. In view of recent enforcement issues (illustrated by current whaling in the North Pacific), the article concludes by highlighting the quality of trust which, it is argued, is a critical requirement that must underpin the international regime if there is to be true legitimacy and, ultimately, credibility.