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 3: Common but differentiated responsibilities: agency in climate justice

Ivo Wallimann-Helmer

Abstract

Ethical challenges concerning climate change often involve two issues that are closely connected: (1) the just distribution of entitlements and burdens, and (2) the fair differentiation of responsibilities. Although the fairness of any differentiation of responsibilities must rely on principles of justice, the applicability of these principles and the demands that they make depend strongly on three factors: (1) the climate policy domains for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage; (2) the agents – most often states or other communities – bearing the responsibilities; and (3) the policy levels of international, regional, national or local climate action. I argue that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is not only the starting point for climate justice. It also shapes what demands for climate action are most appropriate for the different agents responsible for climate action.

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