A Research Agenda for Climate Justice
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A Research Agenda for Climate Justice

Edited by Paul G. Harris

Climate change will bring great suffering to communities, individuals and ecosystems. Those least responsible for the problem will suffer the most. Justice demands urgent action to reverse its causes and impacts. In this provocative new book, Paul G. Harris brings together a collection of original essays to explore alternative, innovative approaches to understanding and implementing climate justice in the future. Through investigations informed by philosophy, politics, sociology, law and economics, this Research Agenda reveals how climate change is a matter of justice and makes concrete proposals for more effective mitigation.
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Chapter 2: Vital needs and climate change: inter-human, inter-generational and inter-species justice

Robin Attfield

Abstract

The Environmental Justice Movement shows how environmentally harmful activities are often located close to poor and dispossessed people. These activities give rise to issues of substantive, procedural and recognitional justice. This movement can readily include justice for future generations within its concerns. Despite problems concerning the rights of currently unidentifiable future individuals, future populations can still be treated unfairly, as when current interests are prioritized while theirs are neglected. Thus, preventing harm to future generations can be unjust. Many philosophers omit non-human creatures from the scope of justice, but this omission implies that, despite our obligations towards animals, human interests must always take precedence. Yet conceding this means unjustly sacrificing the vital needs of non-human creatures to peripheral interests of human beings. Environmental ethicists and policy-makers concerned about climate justice need to take all of these interests into balanced account.

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