Whilst the climate itself has been changing over recent decades, our understanding has also
been evolving. This article highlights four images of the normative significance of climate
change. The earliest two, making room and avoiding encroachment, assume that the primary
normative issue was how to distribute permissions to emit the carbon dioxide from fossil
fuels, which is the chief force undermining the climate. But the evolving science established
that the remaining cumulative carbon budget compatible with tolerable degrees of climate
change is too small, however it is distributed. The most urgent imperative is to exit the fossil
fuel regime and construct an alternative energy regime. The third image pictures this
transition as an invaluable opportunity for institutional innovations protecting rights
understood to include at least the subsistence need for essential energy. The fourth
image, avoiding forced choice, underlines the responsibility of the current generations
not to leave future ones with nothing but alternatives that undermine rights.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.