Towards a Global Justice Vision for Climate Law in a Time of ‘Unreason’
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
October 13, 2011
Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 32-57, 2013
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/72
It seems that there are parallel realities when it comes to the issue of global climate change and the responses of the international community to the threats it poses to the survival of the planet. On the one hand, climate science has become ever more compelling. Yet at the international negotiations, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries have failed to make the commitments necessary to achieve their stated objective of keeping the rise in global temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial levels? Why is it that their best efforts to date are likely to result in a warming trajectory of 3.2°C? What is clear is that in many jurisdictions the debate on climate change is parochial and impoverished by the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry which has campaigned so relentlessly against climate regulation. Add to this politicians, who lack either the knowledge, or the courage, to lead a ‘reasoned discussion’ on the issue. Citizens in relatively wealthy economies are encouraged to think only about the financial impost of carbon prices on themselves and their families, as politicians chase the goal of winning government in short-term election cycles. Seldom is the current consensus on climate science, or the predicted climate change disasters, clearly articulated and communicated. The author will rely on the work of two philosophers to craft a global justice vision for climate law in this time of ‘unreason’. The works are Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice and Stephen Gardiner’s A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption. Sen encourages us, when considering questions of justice, to broaden the informational basis of our evaluations, free from vested interests. Meanwhile, Gardiner says we need to think clearly and to protect ourselves against weak or deceptive arguments that permit us to ‘pass the climate change buck’ to the next generation. In developing this thesis, the author will of necessity refer to a contrary view offered by Posner and Weisbach in Climate Change Justice where the authors allow national, or local, preferences to dictate the parameters of a climate change treaty. The author will reject the thesis proposed by these authors.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, The Post-Kyoto Framework, climate change justice, climate science, common but differentiated responsibility, impacts of climate change on cities and food security, philosophy, law and economics
JEL Classification: K10, L30, K32, L33, K33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 15, 2011 ; Last revised: April 4, 2013
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