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The Changing Ethics of Climate Change

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 September 2014

Extract

Many in the environmental movement have argued in recent years that in order to speed up climate actions we should take the ethics out of the climate change debate. Focusing on the moral obligation to act or on the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable was often judged to render the discourse too “heavy,” “negative,” or “difficult.” Many also deemed it unnecessary. After all, renewable energies, better designed cities that allow for reduced car use, and power plant regulations that lead to cleaner local air—to take just three examples—all have real and substantial benefits unrelated to the fact that they are “the right thing to do” in the face of climate change. They create jobs, reduce health problems and costs, and make society fitter.

Type
Roundtable: The Facts, Fictions, and Future of Climate Change
Copyright
Copyright © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 2014 

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References

NOTES

1 See, for example, Futerra Sustainability Communications, “Sizzle: The New Climate Message,” accessed June 3, 2014, www.futerra.co.uk/downloads/Sellthesizzle.pdf.

2 See Barack Obama's Weekly Address to the Nation, May 31, 2014, “Reducing Carbon Pollution in Our Power Plants,” accessed June 3, 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=li1aHjjqh3w.

3 See World Bank, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/11/18/Climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-this-century.

4 See Chris Mooney, “7 Scary Facts About How Global Warming Is Scorching the United States,” Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/national-assessment-climate-ameriica, May 6, 2014, accessed June 3, 2014.

5 In debates at UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, often equated with the Annex 1 countries of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

6 See endnote 3.

7 See Bonnie Malkin, “Micronesia Mounts Unprecedented Legal Challenge Over Czech Power Station,” Telegraph, May 24, 2011, accessed June 3, 2014, www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8532796/Micronesia-mounts-unprecedented-legal-challenge-over-Czech-power-station.html.

8 See Sachs, Wolfgang, Planet Dialectics: Explorations in Environment and Development (London: Zed Books, 1999)Google Scholar.

9 See Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, “Coming Soon: Solar-Powered eJeepneys in Tacloban,” May 20, 2014, accessed June 3, 2014, www.ejeepney.org/coming-soon-solar-powered-ejeepneys-in-tacloban/.

10 See Sierra Club, Move Beyond Coal, The Global Movement in 2013, http://vault.sierraclub.org/international/beyond-coal/global-movement-beyond-coal-report-2013.pdf, accessed 10th July 2014, and Nita Bhalla, “Battle Over Essar-Led Project Reflects India's New Mining Pains,” Reuters, March 20, 2014, accessed June 3, 2014, in.reuters.com/article/2014/03/20/india-mining-environment-idINDEEA2I0FV20140320.

11 See Deng Ping and Harri Lammi, “Why the World's Biggest Coal Company Has Backed Down,” Greenpeace Blog, April 8, 2014, accessed June 26, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/news/blog/why-the-worlds-biggest-coal-company-has-backe/blog/48856/.

12 See Li Shuo and Kaisa Kosonen, “Air, Water, and Climate—The Triple Whammy That Ends China's Coal Boom,” Greenpeace Blog, April 11, 2014, accessed June 26, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/air-water-and-climate-the-triple-whammy/blog/48896/.

13 Li Shuo and Lauri Myllyvirta, The End of China's Coal Boom (Greenpeace East Asia, April 11, 2014), accessed June 26, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/publications/reports/climate-energy/2014/end-china-coal-boom/.

14 Martinez-Alier, Joan, The Environmentalism of the Poor: A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2003)Google Scholar.

15 See Kumi Naidoo, “Ranking the Climate Culprits,” Huffington Post, November 21, 2013, accessed June 3, 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/kumi-naidoo/ranking-the-climate-culpr_b_4316256.html.

16 Melita Steele, “Where a Coal Addiction Has Put Us—The Dirtiest Air in the World,” Greenpeace Blog, April 26, 2013, accessed June 3, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/News/Blog/witbank-the-home-of-the-dirtiest-air-in-the-w/blog/44959/; Gets, Alastair, Powering The Future: Renewable Energy Roll-Out in South Africa (Johannesburg: Greenpeace Africa, 2013)Google Scholar, accessed June 3, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/News/news/Powering-The-Future-Renewable-Energy-Rollout-in-South-Africa/.

17 See “Executives Facing Climate Denial-Related Claims Could Be Personally Liable—NGOs,” Greenpeace International press release, May 28, 2014, accessed June 3, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Executives-facing-climate-denial-related-claims-could-be-personally-liable—NGOs/.

18 See Daniel Mittler, “Friends in High Places—the Arctic 30 Receive Political Support All Over the World,” Greenpeace Blog, November 8, 2013, accessed June 26, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/Arctic-30-receive-political-support/blog/47282/.

19 Chris Rose, “The Cornered Dinosaur and the Carbon Hostages,” Three Worlds, October 18, 2013, accessed June 9, 2014, threeworlds.campaignstrategy.org/?p = 286.

20 See Deadly Environment: The Dramatic Rise in Killings of Environmental and land Defenders (London: Global Witness Limited, 2014)Google Scholar, accessed June 3, 2014, www.globalwitness.org/deadlyenvironment/#report.

21 Bill Kovarick, “Greenpeace,” website of Prof. Kovarick, accessed June 30, 2014, www.environmentalhistory.org/billkovarik/ej/history-of-ej/greenpeace-history/.

22 See Ryan Koronowski, “Leave Two-Thirds Of Fossil Fuels In The Ground, Says International Energy Agency,” Climate Progress, June 13, 2013, accessed June 30, 2014, thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/13/2142951/june-13-news-leave-two-thirds-of-fossil-fuels-in-the-ground-says-international-energy-agency/.

23 See Charlie Kronick, “Oil Company—and Financial—Risk in the High Arctic,” International Banker, accessed June 30, 2014, internationalbanker.com/finance/oil-company-financial-risk-high-arctic/.

24 See Bill McKibben, “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math,” Rolling Stone, July 19, 2012, accessed June 30, 2014, www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719.

25 See Desmond Tutu, “We Need an Apartheid-Style Boycott to Save the Planet,” Guardian, April 10, 2014, accessed June 30, 2014, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/10/divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change-keystone-xl.

26 See the “Fossil Free” campaign website, accessed June 30, 2014, gofossilfree.org/.

27 See Bill McKibben, “It's Time to Stop Investing in the Fossil Fuel Industry,” Guardian, May 30, 2013, accessed June 30, 2014, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/30/fossil-fuel-divestment-climate-change.

28 See Kumi Naidoo and Daniel Mittler, “Transform Global Governance to Deliver Sustainability and Climate Justice,” in Civicus State of Civil Society Report 2014, accessed June 30, 2014, civicus.org/index.php/en/socs2014/87-expert-perspectives/2017-transform-global-governance-to-deliver-sustainability-and-climate-justice.

29 See “The Energy [R]evolution 2012,” Greenpeace International website, accessed June 3, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/energyrevolution.

30 See Kumi Naidoo, “Time for an Energy [R]evolution,” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development website, accessed June 3, 2014, www.oecd.org/forum/time-for-an-energy-revolution.htm.

31 See International Energy Agency, “Any Country Can Reach High Shares of Wind, Solar Power Cost-Effectively, Study Shows,” February 26, 2014, accessed June 29, 2014, www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2014/february/name,47513,en.html; Al Gore, “The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate,” Rolling Stone, June 18, 2014, accessed June 29, 2014, www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618; and Daniel Mittler and Kaisa Kosonen, “Dear Fossil Fuel Industry—It's Over,” Greenpeace Blog, April 13, 2014, accessed June 3, 2014, www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/dear-fossil-fuel-industry-its-over/blog/48908/.