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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 9: Beyond justice

Proposals, Arguments and Justification

Olivier Godard

Extract

This last chapter points out the political impasse of a certain moralist approach to climate justice. This is due to its lack of attention to the structure of the situation in which claims of justice are raised, and to the proliferation of a whimsical moralist rhetoric. Given the urgency of engaging in serious climate action, states would benefit from passing controversial claims, worded in the name of what some believe to be justice, to a framework of acceptability aimed at defining operational and effective climate strategies, which at the same time would reduce international inequalities by assuming a sustainable development perspective. Relations with generations to come are a matter of the desire of living persons to create indirect links with future persons with whom they cannot have face-to-face relationships, and not of moral obligations placed under the aegis of justice. There are only two orders of justification which give an explicit place to a time going beyond the present time: the industrial and domestic orders. The promises to be made to future generations should then be supported by a compromise encompassing these two orders in a coherent sustainable development project, despite the limitations inherent in each of these orders. The less an international regime of climate protection is integrated, relying more on the loose articulation of fragmented and specialized coordination scenes, the less it can integrate in depth the objectives of international distributive justice. The Paris 2015 agreement that followed the turn of the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2009 in favour of a bottom-up approach does not leave much room for redistributive justice between countries.

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