Ethics and Global Environmental Policy
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Ethics and Global Environmental Policy

Cosmopolitan Conceptions of Climate Change

Edited by Paul G. Harris

This collection of provocative essays re-evaluates the world’s failed policy responses to climate change, in the process demonstrating how cosmopolitan ethics can inform global environmental governance.
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Chapter 9: Cosmopolitan Diplomacy and the Climate Change Regime: Moving Beyond International Doctrine

Paul G. Harris


Paul G. Harris INTRODUCTION Efforts by governments and the international community over the last three decades to cooperate in protecting the global environment have failed to bring about robust action to limit greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change. While pursuing apparently logical economic and social development, and by acting in ways that seem to be promoting the interests of nation-states and their citizens, humanity continues to dangerously alter the Earth’s atmospheric and climate systems, with profound consequences for human well-being and, for many millions of people, even survival. One reason for this tragedy is the preoccupation of governments and societies with political independence and national sovereignty, the existence of an international system premised on that sovereignty and a failure to adequately recognize twenty-first century realities, notably rapidly expanding numbers of new consumers in the developing world that are adding greatly to the greenhouse gas pollution that has long come from the developed world. The dilemma brought on by a preoccupation with states and their sovereign rights requires an alternative pathway leading to environmentally sustainable development that is agreeable to both rich and poor countries and peoples. This chapter proposes a way forward for the climate change regime and resulting policies that acknowledges the responsibilities and duties of developed states while also explicitly acknowledging and acting upon the responsibilities of all affluent people, regardless of nationality.1 My aim is to explore the role of justice in the world’s policy responses to climate change, and in particular to describe an alternative strategy...

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