Daniel A. Farber
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law
July 10, 2011
In their book Climate Change Justice, Eric Posner and David Weisbach advocate adoption of an economically optimal climate treaty coupled with foreign aid (to handle distributional issues with poor countries) and increased investment (to transfer funds to future generations harmed by climate change.) Although this conventional analysis provides the main framework of their proposed approach to climate policy, Posner and Weisbach to their credit introduce a number of important qualifications. This review argues that ethical considerations should play a greater role in climate policy than Posner and Weisbach’s analysis would allow. The injustice of causing harm to the poorest countries and to future generations provides powerful arguments for strengthening climate policy – and cash compensation for possible catastrophic harm may not be adequate even if feasible. To the extent that harmful climate change cannot be avoided, the rich countries that have contributed so much to emissions should provide funding for adaptation and mitigation efforts to reduce harm in the poorest countries.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: climate change, climate justice, distributive justice, corrective justice, discounting, future generations
JEL Classification: A13, D63, D99, H43, N50, Q25, Q48
Date posted: July 12, 2011