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Global Climate Justice

Proposals, Arguments and Justification

Olivier Godard

In this thoughtful and original book, social scientist Olivier Godard considers the ways in which arguments of justice cling to international efforts to address global climate change. Proposals made by governments, experts and NGOs as well as concepts and arguments born of moral and political philosophy are introduced and critically examined. Godard contributes to this important debate by showing why global climate justice is still controversial, despite it being a key issue of our times.
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Chapter 3: Justice and international coordination

Proposals, Arguments and Justification

Olivier Godard

Extract

This chapter combines two intellectual approaches. The first questions how the considerations of justice can enter the models of thinking about international coordination. To this end, it considers three models of international coordination: forming an epistemic community, seeking an interest-based and mutually beneficial agreement and referring to an imaginary institution of humankind as a single political community. The second approach follows the reverse path: how do theories of justice consider issues of international coordination? This exercise underlines the variety of links. The model of the epistemic community primarily solicits an ethic of virtue and commutative justice, avoiding any focus on the comparison of respective policies. On the contrary, with the interest-based model, it is intrinsic for each state to look at what others are doing. The spirit of comparison excites feelings of distributive injustice and leads to various demands for compensation for presumed injustices attached to the situation of reference. Theories attached to nation state sovereignty reject strong conceptions of distributive justice in international relations, but recognize the general obligation to respect the sovereignty of other states, and admit obligations to assist states facing difficulties in developing a strong internal order responding to the demands of justice or to cover the basic needs of their people (the Rawlsian ‘Law of Peoples’). Risse’s pluralist internationalism, and above all the new radical cosmopolitanism, go much further by putting forward international obligations to meet the natural rights of everyone in the world and to respond to redistributive demands in the name of equality of all ‘citizens of the world’. Eventually, we have to face a choice between universal, egalitarian, individualistic moralism and a political concern for equality of respect between sovereign states.

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