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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

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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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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Preface

Carbon Taxes, Energy Subsidies and Smart Instrument Mixes

Edited by Stefan E. Weishaar, Larry Kreiser, Janet E. Milne, Hope Ashiabor and Michael Mehling

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Editorial review board

Carbon Taxes, Energy Subsidies and Smart Instrument Mixes

Edited by Stefan E. Weishaar, Larry Kreiser, Janet E. Milne, Hope Ashiabor and Michael Mehling

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Carbon tax choices: the tale of four states

Carbon Taxes, Energy Subsidies and Smart Instrument Mixes

Janet E. Milne

While carbon tax measures have not yet met with success at the federal level in the United States, proposals for carbon taxes emerged in a handful of states in 2015 and 2016. The proposals address the shared challenge of climate change, but each has its own unique features and setting. Drawing on proposals in Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington as case studies, this chapter explores how state constitutions can affect the design of state-level carbon taxes and their legislative route toward enactment. For example, the Oregon constitution imposes limits on tax rates and use of the revenue when taxing certain fossil fuels. The constitutions in three of the four states require that some types of revenue measures must originate in the legislative House of Representatives, not the Senate, raising the question whether carbon taxes can be designed in a manner that will avoid this procedural constraint. In Washington, the carbon tax proposal came forward as a ballot initiative that went to voters in the general election, following a procedure permitted under the state constitution. These case studies serve as an important reminder of how constitutional provisions that were not created with climate change in mind can influence the design features of subnational carbon taxes and political strategies.

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Preface

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by K. N. Ninan and Makoto Inoue